South Sydney have gone down to the Melbourne Storm this evening by 16-12 in a hotly contested Round 10 match at AAMI Park during the NRL’s Women in League Round.
After trailing 16-2 at the break, the men in red and green kept the Storm scoreless in the second half, scoring two tries of their own to narrow the gap. But time was against Michael Maguire’s men despite a spirited final 20 minutes.
The Rabbitohs started the match strongly by completing their opening set and getting another one when Aaron Gray bundled the Storm’s winger over the touch-line on the 20. Another promising attacking raid from the ensuing set yielded another repeat set courtesy of a well-weighted kick from Dylan Walker.
On the back of that set, a penalty to the red and greens on the 30 metre line allowed Bryson Goodwin to kick his side two points ahead after just five minutes.
Chris McQueen then came within a millimetre of scoring in the eighth minute when he hit the ball at speed close to the try-line before reaching out. But the Queenslander couldn’t keep control of the pill.
Souths’ two-point advantage was short-lived when a penalty against George Burgess for hands on the ball allowed Cameron Smith a chance to level the scores with a penalty goal from right in front.
In a sign of the level of respect both sides hold for each other, another penalty to the Storm in similar position in the 15th minute saw Smith again take the shot at goal to hand the home-side the lead by 4-2.
The ill-discipline led to Melbourne gaining momentum, eventually resulting in a try to front-rower Jesse Bromwich right next to the posts in the 21st minute, despite the desperate defensive efforts of the men in red and green. Smith added the extras to make it 10-2.
Souths threw everything they had at the Storm in a determined period of play, but wave after wave of red and green attack was repelled by the home-side with confidence.
The strong defence would pay dividends for the Storm, the side eventually going over through Will Chambers two minutes before half-time to make the half-time score 16-2.
After the break, the Rabbitohs would be the first to score after a change of direction on the final tackle from John Sutton allowed Keary to kick for the wing of Johnston, who in turn flew above the Storm defence to score. Issac Luke converted from out wide to make it 16-8 nine minutes into the second stanza.
Souths continued to attack, and after a Mahe Fonua mistake deep inside Storm territory, a red and green back-line movement saw Aaron Gray slide over in his left hand corner for the third try of his career. Luke’s touch-line conversion attempt hit the upright leaving the score at 16-12.
With six minutes remaining, Dylan Walker seemed to snatch the game from the Storm’s grasp thanks to a short-side play that saw Johnston leap from the field of play to bat the ball back to Walker. But while the Souths Junior managed to get the ball down, the video referee spotted Johnston’s foot on the touch-line before he gave the ball.
Despite a spirited performance from the Rabbitohs, the two points would ultimately go to the Storm by 12-12.
Storm 16 (Jesse Bromwich, Will Chambers, tries; Cameron Smith 4 goals)
Rabbitohs 12 (Alex Johnston, Aaron Gray, tries; Bryson Goodwin 1, Issac Luke 1 goals)