When your team needs a big play to win and the pressure is on, there is one player that has shown time after time how composed and cool he can be under that pressure.
That man is the Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk who, has coolly as you like, slotted home the winning field goal in golden point to give the Storm a 19-18 win over the Wests Tigers.
The contest went back and forth, with both sides enjoying periods of dominance.
There were debutants in both sides, with JJ Felise and Josh Addo-Carr playing for the Tigers and Suliasi Vunivalu playing for the Storm.
The Fijian-born Vunivalu made the perfect start to his NRL career, crossing early in the game before later adding a 2nd try.
The game was not without controversy, however, as the Tigers felt they may have been hard done by.
After a kick was put through, Chris Lawrence ran through the line and was blatantly impeded in the process by Storm centre Richie Kennar.
However, after a long review of it by the NRL Bunker, they deemed it to be a penalty only, and did not award a penalty try that so many Tigers fans were after.
Kennar was however sent to the sin-bin and the Storm were a man-down for ten minutes but despite that, the Storm were in control of the possession during that time.
The game was sent to golden point after Jordan Rankin slotted a penalty goal in the dying stages of the second half.
Despite numerous field goal attempts – including a relative sitter from Mitch Moses that missed – it was the ‘Iceman’ that stepped up and made it count, handing the Storm a much needed, narrow win.
Cronk drew praise from captain Cameron Smith, who has come to expect it from the halfback.
“He just knows how to get himself in the right position and knows when to pull the trigger to have a shot,” Storm captain Cameron Smith said.
“I thought he was going to wait a tackle too long in that last set but he just knew what position he wanted to put himself in. He’s very calm in those situations and he’s done it on some pretty big stages before.”
And whilst the Storm are 5-2, Smith knows they have plenty of room to improve.
“We aren’t playing to our capabilities as yet, but we’re still 5-2 and I think that’s the one thing that is getting lost with our performances,” he said.
“There’s only one team in the competition with a better record than us and that’s the Broncos. We haven’t played anywhere near our best football but we’re still winning, so there’s a lot for us to build on.”
Disappointed with the loss, Tigers coach Jason Taylor says inopportune errors is what cost them the game.
“It was a tough way to lose, there’s no doubt about that,” Taylor said.
“We’ve got a room full of absolutely dejected players on the back of the effort they’ve put in. I talked to them at half-time about it â€“ we’ve put so much effort in every week but we just have made it too hard for ourselves to win.”
Player of the Game:
3. Cooper Cronk
2. Marika Koroibete
1. Ava Seumanufagai
Melbourne Storm 19 (Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Cooper Cronk, Marika Koroibete tries; Cameron Smith 1 goal; Cooper Cronk field goal) defeated Wests Tigers 18 (Josh Addo-Carr, Luke Brooks, Kevin Naiqama tries; Jordan Rankin 3 goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Half-time: 12-4 Tigers. Crowd: 9,216. Sin bin: Richard Kennar (professional foul). On report: Suliasi Vunivalu (high tackle).