The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down 27-14 to the Melbourne Storm in the inaugural Crown Resorts OCRF Charity Challenge at ANZ Stadium tonight (Friday) in front of 18,508 Members and supporters.
To see the match wrap-up, please click here.
To see the post-match press conference, please click here.
To watch Chris McQueen's Fujitsu Post-Match Reaction, please click here.
To watch Michael Maguie's Fujitsu Post-Match Reaction, please click here.
Despite a gallant second-half effort from the Rabbitohs, an intense performance from the Storm proved too much for the red and greens.
After just 30 seconds, a Ryan Hinchcliffe tackle on George Burgess saw the Englishman spill the ball on his own line giving the visitors first crack at the Rabbitohs. The Rabbitohs managed to diffuse the Storm’s first set, but the Storm managed to force a line drop-out.
The Storm made no mistake with their second attempt though when Cooper Cronk linked up with Billy Slater to open the scoring. Cameron Smith converted to give Melbourne an early 6-0 lead after just four minutes.
Melbourne continued to dominate in the early exchanges, pressing the South Sydney line with their enthusiastic attack. But while the Rabbitohs would hold the Storm out, a penalty right in front of the sticks allowed Cameron Smith to boot the visitors two points further ahead.
A string of handling errors put the Storm back within striking distance with 15 minutes of the half remaining, with Cooper Cronk eventually burrowing under the Rabbitohs defence to score 10 metres in from touch. Cameron Smith converted to make 14-0.
To compound Souths’ problems, Billy Slater took the kick-off with one foot in the in-goal and one over the dead-ball line, putting the Storm in perfect attacking position again. Kevin Proctor blew an opportunity for the Storm with the line wide open, but mercifully dropped the ball, releasing the pressure valve momentarily for the red and greens.
A rare mistake from the Storm inside their own half finally gave Souths a chance, and this time they made the most of it. Dylan Walker drew the Melbourne defence in before passing on to Alex Johnston who crossed for his third try in three games. Adam Reynolds’ attempted conversion was waved away leaving the Storm with a ten-point advantage.
With two seconds left in the first half, Sisa Waqa finished off a Storm back-line movement to slide over in the corner. Cameron Smith converted millimetres in from touch to make the half-time score 20-4.
The second half didn’t start well for the Rabbitohs, with centre Kirisome Auva’a briefly taken from the field after copping the hip of teammate Greg Inglis in the head as the two attempted to diffuse a kick. Auva’a’s departure left the Rabbitohs with only two players on the bench for a time after Kyle Turner was earlier taken from the field with a concussion.
But despite the string of challenges, things were about to change. John Sutton came up with the play the Rabbitohs needed – breaking through the Storm line before passing onto Reynolds who raced the remaining 20 metres to touch down under the black dot. Reynolds converted his own try to make it 20-10.
The Rabbitohs began to build momentum and on the back of a penalty for a strip right on the line, it was the Walker and Johnston combination again doing damage on the right edge – Walker flicking the ball back inside to Johnston who crashed over for his second of the night. Reynolds’ conversion attempt hit the upright and was waved away, leaving the score at 20-14 in Melbourne’s favour.
The Melbourne Storm were next to score though when Billy Slater sliced through and dummied before racing 20 metres to score. Smith added the extras to make it 24-14 in the Storm’s favour.
With the clock winding down, Cronk snapped a field-goal to make it 27-14. The Rabbitohs put in a short kick-off that saw George Burgess regather and surge up towards the Storm 10 metre line, only to lose the ball in the tackle.
Storm 27 (Billy Slater 2, Cooper Cronk, Sisa Waqa tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals)
Rabbitohs 14 (Alex Johnston 2, Adam Reynolds, tries; Adam Reynolds 1 goals)