The Melbourne Storm have done it once again. Last night, when needing a win of 26 points or more, the 06/07 minor premiers met the challenge making this season their 3rd successive minor premiership. The Storm came away with a 42-4 whitewash over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Knowing exactly what needed to be done, the Storm went into the game last night with a clear plan and excecuted it to perfection. A win for the Storm would have secured a top 2 placing and shift Cronulla to 3rd position on the ladder, and a win of 26 points or more would mean climbing to the top of the premiership table.
Melbourne left the field at half time with a 20-4 lead and needing another 10 points before full time to find themselves on top of the ladder. Who else to score those 10 points but play maker Billy Slater who was sinbinned in the first half for a professional foul. Slater didn’t waste any time in making his comeback. Half way through the second half, Slater scored himself a double in only 5 minutes and set up the minor premiership for the Storm.
Slater’s first try came as he nabbed a chip kick off Rabbitohs halfback Chris Sandow and ran the length of the field to find himself over the line. His second try gave his team the points they needed to climb Manly and finish in 1st position on the competition ladder.
Cameron Smith converted Slater’s 2nd try to take the score to 32-4 and extend their lead by 28 points. Not yet finished, the Storm secured their position as minor premiers even further when Brett Anderson (replacing the injured Steve Turner) scored a juggling try 5 minutes before the siren.
The Storm now face the Warriors this Sunday afternoon at Olympic Park while Manly are set to face St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday night at Brookvale. Also on Saturday, the Cronulla Sharks who finished the competition in 3rd place will be up against Canberra at Toyota Park.
While a great result for the Storm, it isn’t such great news for Dallas Johnson. Johnson may have a possible knee injury after he was tackled in the final 3 minutes of the match. Johnson, who will also be reviewed by the match review committee for a lifting tackle, was able to hobble off the field.
The match last night was the final home and away game for 5 of the Storm players. However, a somewhat emotional night for Matt Geyer, one of the club’s last remaining foundation players who is set to retire at the end of the season.
Seen as the heart and soul of the Storm club, Geyer lead his team onto the field with his children. Geyer didn’t waste any time scoring after just 5 minutes after catching an offload from Greg Inglis and side stepping Sandow to find his way over the line.
Smith converted Geyer’s try to give the Storm an early 6-0 lead. Rabbitohs, however, showed they weren’t going to be beaten that easily and made a break only minutes later that saw them run the length of the field and saw Slater sinbinned for 10 minutes for a professional foul for holding down Jamie Simpson just metres from the try line.
With only 12 players, the Storm’s defence remained strong and forced an error for the Rabbitohs. After a controversial decision from ref Steve Lyons, who ruled that Sandow had played at a Cooper Cronk kick before it went into touch, the Storm who were awarded a scrum feed scored once again through Anthony Quinn. An unfortunate ruling against the South as it appeared that Sandow hadn’t made a play for the ball and had little chance to avoid it before it thumped into his torso.
The only question that now remains is whether Storm can farewell Geyer with a 2008 Premiership in his final year in the NRL.