Cooper Cronk

In what was an entertaining contest on the whole but riddled with poor ball control and ill-discipline – it was the Melbourne Storm who came out on top in the World Club Challenge this morning, defeating the Leeds Rhinos 18-14 in a nail-biting contest.

Stripped of their 2010 World Club Challenge win following their salary cap ordeal a couple of years back, the Storm won this one legitimately, withstanding a late comeback from the Leeds Rhinos to kick-start their 2013 season in the best possible fashion.

With the game locked at 8-all at half-time in front of a crowd of 20,400 at Carnegie Stadium in Headingley, it was the Storm who came out the better side in the second half, racing out to an 18-8 lead, before Leeds pulled one try back with Sinfield converting it.

That made the score 18-14, the conversion by Sinfield was his 39th straight conversion for the Leeds Rhinos, as the Rhinos look to mount a late fightback, but it was not to be.

The Storm could have gone ahead further once more, only for referee Ben Thaler ruling a forward pass that led to a disallowed Mahe Fonua try.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was pleased with the win, saying that his side always takes the World Club Challenge clash very seriously.

“It’s well known that some clubs don’t take this game as seriously but we do,” said Storm coach Bellamy.

“You’ve got to win a comp to play in this game and we’re proud to represent the NRL.”

Whilst happy with the way his side started both halves, he was disappointed that they gave the Rhinos so many attacking opportunities.

“But we gave the Rhinos too many opportunities for my liking,” he said.

It was a different story for Leeds, with captain Kevin Sinfield pleased with the way his side performed but disappointed that they failed to capitalise on their attacking opportunities in the game.

“We had our chances but we could not prise them open in the end,” said the Golden Boot winner.

“It is one of those things.

“The guys emptied their tanks and gave everything so I am really proud and pleased to play alongside every one of them. But tonight we just were not good enough in that final 20 – we just could not open them up.

“The two tries after half time hurt us quite a bit and meant we were chasing the game, but I think the score should have settled us down a bit more. But it did not. We were a little bit erratic. We had plenty of chances but just could not open them up. We’re really disappointed.

“They are a great team. We have come up against some really good sides throughout Super League. They are right up there.

“They are one of the best sides we’ve faced. But we were in with a shout and unfortunately, the best team won today.”

By ricky

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