Clinical Melbourne. Good game South Sydney. The two standout teams to start the season. — Michael Carayannis (@MCarayannis) April 13, 2013
Melbourne extend their winning streak to an extraordinary 14 matches, and take the outright lead of the competition.
MELBOURNE 17 (M Fonua K Proctor G Widdop tries C Smith 2 goals C Cronk field goal) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 10 (A Everingham G Inglis tries A Reynolds goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 32,671.
79 min: Slater gets an early shower, sin binned for a late tackle near Melbourne's line.
76 min: Cronk pots a field goal, which all but wraps up the game. Melbourne 17-10.
75 min: One-handed pass from Inglis misses its mark and bounces into touch near halfway. Storm breathe easier.
72 min: Souths need to score twice but have the ball deep inside Melbourne's half. TRY. Great cut-out pass from Reynolds puts Andrew Everingham over in the corner. Reynold misses the kick from the sideline. Melbourne 16-10. Great finish coming up.
Wondering if the ref who just called Sam Burgess "John" will call Cameron Smith "Adriana".#nrloffortune — Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) April 13, 2013
Michael Carayannis writes: In the first half the Storm attacked John Sutton's left edge in the second half they've again taken to the short side but have looked at targeting Adam Reynolds on South Sydney's right side. Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdop have directed the team around with class.
67 min: He is human. Slater fumbles a bomb but it goes backwards and the Storm play on.
63 min: Fonua spills a towering bomb in-goal. Big chance for the Bunnies, but Sam Burgess knocks on in the play-the-ball on the first tackle. Coach killer!
If the big 4 don't get hurt who is goin to beat storm What great team better than last year @nswrl — Paul Langmack (@PaulLangmack) April 13, 2013
54 min: TRY. Just when it looked as though Souths were right back in the contest, Widdop beats three tackles to score a great individual four-pointer after Souths' second handling error. Smith's kick hits the upright. Storm 16-6.
Already seeing tweets about Merritt's error and that's why he should never play for NSW. What complete and utter nonsense. — phillutton (@phillutton) April 13, 2013
48 min: TRY. Souths hit back with Greg Inglis soaring above the pack to ground a Adam Reynolds bomb. Reynolds converts. How crucial does that Burgess tackle look now? Melbourne 12-6.
45 min: Unbelievable covering tackle by big George Burgess on countryman Gareth Widdup prevents a try. How good of a season is Sam's little (massive) brother having?
This Storm vs Rabbitohs game is unreal.. #leaguemorebetter — Matt Giteau (@giteau_rugby) April 13, 2013
Souths completed 17 of 18 sets in the first half, yet trail 12-0. Goes to show how good Melbourne are.
Melbourne were offside but can I remind the males in my house that yelling at the TV does not change the referees' mind. #NRLSouMel — Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) April 13, 2013
Storm defence is top shelf. Souths are throwing everything at them but somehow Melbourne are holding firm #NRLSouMel — paul suttor (@paulsuttor) April 13, 2013
Melb really are that good #nrl — brendan cowell (@brendancowell) April 13, 2013
39 min: TRY! The Storm go out to a 10-0 lead with Fonau crossing after an inch-perfect Cronk cross-kick bounced perfectly for him. Fonua then casually grounded the ball only millimetres from the deadline line. Smith lands the kick. Storm go to half-time leading 12-0.
38 min: Terrific try-saving tackle by Slater on Merritt. No wonder Melbourne are the defending premiers, their defence has been superb tonight.
37 min: Souths go perilously close to hitting back, with Mahe Fonau knocking the ball dead just before Andrew Everingham arrived.
32 min: Sisa Waqa takes an AFL-style mark to defuse a Souths bomb, and offloads in the tackle for good measure. What a player the former Rooster has become under Craig Bellamy's tutelage.
25 min: Handling error from Jason Ryles in the next set of six hands Souths an opportunity but their efforts go unrewarded. Meanwhile Siosaia Vave limps off injured - Storm could be down to 16 men for the rest of the match.
23 min: TRY. The Storm finally turn their glut of possession into points, Proctor scoring after great lead-up work from Cronk and Ryan Hinchcliffe. Smith turns four into six. Storm 6-0.
22 min: A pinpoint Smith kicks forces yet another dropout from Souths.
19 min: The Storm have had 62 per cent of possession but Souths continue to keep their line in tact.
16 min: Magic play from Greg Inglis prevents a 40-20 from Cooper Cronk. Plays like that can turn a game.
14 min: Cameron Smith dinks the ball in-goal and the Storm will have another set of six on Souths' line. But a dropped ball from Ryan Hoffman lets the Bunnies off the hook.
12 min: Melbourne earn another repeat set via a kick into the in-goal. Will Souths crack?
10 min: Souths' turn to apply pressure on the Melbourne line but the Storm's defence holds firm. Great line speed from the visitors.
5 min: Brilliant cross kick by Cooper Cronk but Slater knocks on. Souths get the ball back, and soon after are awarded a penalty.
4 min: Billy Slater forces a Souths drop-out with a brilliant kick and chase. The bloke is a genius.
2 min: Great start by the Storm, who travelled 100 metres in their first set of six.
Our man at the ground, Michael Carayannis, reports: "Decent crowd building here at ANZ Stadium. Plenty of South Sydney fans. Hard to spot too much purple out there."
Good evening, welcome to our live coverage of this top-of-the-table clash. In late changes, Beau Champion replaces Dylan Farrell at right centre for Souths, while Michael Crocker, Justin Hunt and Jason Clark drop off the extended bench. For Melbourne, Kevin Proctor will start the match and Tohu Harris will come off the bench.
ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park, Saturday 7.30pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Finals Week 1 2012 - Storm 24 bt Souths 6 at AAMI Park
Head-to-head: Souths 3 Storm 17
Referees: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall
TV: Live, FoxSports 1
TAB Sportsbet: Souths $1.88 Storm $1.95
FootyTab: Souths +2.5
Phil Mitchell writes: Under former Melbourne assistant coach Michael Maguire, Souths appear to have modelled their playing style on the Storm – and who can blame the Rabbitohs. If you can’t beat them, mimic them. The Storm have long been Souths’ bogy team, having won 12 of their past 13 clashes since 2005, including last season’s qualifying final.
It’s unfortunate the build-up to this top-of-the-table clash has been largely overshadowed by the Roosters-Bulldogs grudge match, because it’s likely to be a cracking game between two teams in supreme form. There are some great individual match-ups, especially Billy Slater versus Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk against NSW Origin hopeful Adam Reynolds, and the outright lead is up for grabs. A Souths victory would certainly erase any lingering doubts about their premiership credentials.
Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis. Photo: Getty Images
Phil's tip: Storm by 1.
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion, Bryson Goodwin, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, David Tyrrell, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te'o, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Nathan Peats, Jeff Lima, Ben Lowe, George Burgess.
STORM: Billy Slate, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Junior Sa'u, Mahe Fonua, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (capt), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Lagi Setu, Siosaia Vave, Tohu Harris.