The Melbourne Storm grind out a 12-10 win against the Cronulla Sharks, off the back of a brilliant defensive display.
The first 40 minutes was dominated by big hits and hard running as both teams tested each other and battled for ascendancy in the middle.
The Storm took an early penalty goal to take the lead in the sixth minute.
But for the rest of the half, the Sharks had the better of the field position, helped in part by penalties and errors from the Storm.
While Melbourne couldn’t get out of second gear with the ball, in hand they didn’t miss a beat in defence.
The Storm defended their line set after set, frustrating the Sharks.
Shaun Johnson, who looked dangerous when he ran the ball, couldn’t execute his passing game and had to settle for two penalty goals for a two-point lead at halftime.
The arm wrestle continued in the second half with the Storm taking an early penalty goal to level the scores.
Mid-way through the second half, fatigue set in and the game opened up.
Off the back of a linebreak from fullback Will Kennedy, Sharks hooker Blayke Brailey set up Billy Magoulias for the first try of the game.
It was a smart piece of play from Brailey who grubbered through the line after recognising that there was no fullback behind the line.
The Storm were able to draw level 10 minutes later when Cameron Smith put front-rower Tui Kamikamica over right next to the posts.
When the Sharks were penalised with four minutes left to play, Smith coolly slotted the goal to take the lead and the win.
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