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Melbourne Storm big three too good for South Sydney Rabbitohs

Melbourne Storm 27 South Sydney 14

Try time: Souths star Greg Inglis is unable to stop Sisa Waqa scoring for the Storm.

Try time: Souths star Greg Inglis is unable to stop Sisa Waqa scoring for the Storm. Photo: Getty Images

It was meant to serve as an Origin audition for those on the fringe of the Blues team, instead it proved to be a reminder of just how far the gap is between Melbourne's big three and NSW's hopefuls.

With Laurie Daley still unclear on which players to hand the No.6 and No.7 jerseys to when he announces his team on Tuesday, Adam Reynolds and John Sutton had a golden opportunity to stake their claim at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

South Sydney versus Melbourne
View Match Statistics
Players Johnston(2), Reynolds Tries 3 Tries 4 Players Slater(2), Cronk, Waqa
Players Reynolds 1/3 (33%) Conversions 1 Conversions 4 Players Smith 4/4 (100%)
Players Penalty goals 0 Penalty goals 1 Players Smith 1/1 (100%)
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 1 Players Cronk 1/2 (50%)

But a 27-14 loss against Melbourne, inspired by the Storm and Maroons' fullback, halfback and hooker, hasn't helped their cause.

Granted - South Sydney's halves didn't get a lot of opportunities to show what they could do against quality opposition.

And yes, they did combine to produce a quality four pointer to start the second half.

But there inability to swing the momentum of the game when there was a hint of a comeback might just be as significant to Daley as what a man of the match performance would have been.

With all the talk in recent weeks suggesting Melbourne were begining to lose their aura after one of their worst starts to the season in the last decade, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk answered just before the period of the season they have dominated for so long.

They were supposed to be on old legs.

Lacking the motivation and drive to challenge the competition frontrunners.

Given some of their performances to open the 2014 season, perhaps such scrutiny was justified.

But any doubt over their credentials was put to bed on Friday night, dictating terms from start to finish in what was a lesson for their counterparts.

However, like most of Melbourne's games this season, it wasn't without controversy.

Smith unloaded on the referees after Ryan Hinchcliffe was penalised for clipping the legs of Reynolds after putting up a bomb at a time when the Rabbitohs had quickly reduced a 16 point deficit to just six and received five penalties on the trot.

A furious Smith said "Are you penalising that? Are you guys serious this year ... it's rugby league".

The next time Melbourne had the ball, Slater burst through a gap to score a brilliant individual try that was sent upstairs to check for an obstruction from Kevin Proctor on Chris McQueen.

Before the video referees' overturned the on-field decision and awarded a try, Smith approached the match officials and said: "I've got no idea what's going on if he says no try here".

It was Cronk and Slater who opened It was a grubber across the face of the ruck from Cronk that saw Slater dive over for the opening try of the night.

The Storm extended their lead with a penalty goal shortly after, before capping off a dominant start to the match with Cooper Cronk crashing over to give Melbourne a 14-0 lead after 26 minutes. 

Bryson Goodwin put the ensuing kick off dead, but a Tohu Harris knock on close to the line denied the Storm of what looked like a certain try.

When the Rabbitohs finally got into their opposition 20 metre zone, they immediately turned pressure into points with Alex Johnston showing great strength to barge over Slater and score in the corner.

But on the stroke of half time, the Storm landed a huge blow when Sisa Waqa scored in the corner, giving the Storm a 20-4 lead at the break.

When.Sutton broke through the Storm defensive line to put Reynolds in under the posts, the Rabbitohs fans finally had something worth cheering about, with Johnston grabbing his second seven minutes later to reduce Melbourne's lead to just six.

But when Slater scored his second of the night, which was followed by a late field goal to Cronk, all hope of a Rabbitohs comeback went with it.

15 comments so far

  • The refereeing was abysmal. All the marginal calls went against the Rabbitohs, we just weren't allowed into the game. And I don't care what anyone says, Reynolds and Sutton absolutely must be the Blues halves. If Daley doesn't choose them, I will be cheering on the Maroon team from the pub, as will everyone in Redfern. Glory, Glory to South Sydney.

    Bouncing Bunny of Struggle Street
    Date and time
    May 16, 2014, 10:50PM
    • Hahahahahaha! Love it when you've got the poos. Go the roosters!

      Hear the crow
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 3:00PM
    • Sutton and Reynolds have NEVER stood up when it counted. They had their chance last night and failed. Like the finals last year, they disappear when the pressure is on.

      But we should ignore what they do in big games and judge them by their performances against Cronulla and Penrith and Gold Coast

      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 3:34PM
  • Bring on Wednesday week! A preview of things to come!

    Dr Gallop
    Bondi kebab shop inc
    Date and time
    May 16, 2014, 11:07PM
    • Very entertaining game. Ref decisions are a continuing frustration. What does a call of "held" mean? Tacklers continue with the tackle making every effort to put the ball carrier on the ground after the call, and the ball carrier continues to advance off the mark, unfairly affecting the 10m defensive line and the capacity for marker defence from the play the ball. There is as much action after the call as before the call. 2 on field refs and a box of video refs - come on!

      The stripping rule is a lottery, and penalties from ridiculous stripping calls are influencing the momentum and outcome of games.

      Last one, the number of forward passes from dummy half... Good grief.

      Amongst all that, Slater, Cronk and Smith all showed why they are the Kangaroo and Qld incumbents. Well played, outstanding game from all three, behind a forward pack that did themselves proud. The entire Melbourne tram was excellent.

      South's rally were never in the game. And Teo? What a cat.

      Osmium gus
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 5:02AM
      • Yes, Gus, we didn't deserve to win that one, and I don't think any other team in the comp would have matched it with them when they are playing like that, with the possible exception of the Berries.

        A hallmark of all great teams is that they ruthlessly punish any and all
        mistakes, and the Storm are no exception. They force enough errors anyway, so adding to the count by making unforced errors is just suicide.

        Well played Melbourne.

        Lewis Winders
        Date and time
        May 17, 2014, 2:44PM
      • Agreed with almost everything you said, unless I am too old to understand the reference to Teo being a "cat". I thought he played extremely aggressive, without taking cheap shots. I will be sad to see him and McQueen go - two very underrated players.

        Melbourne were the better side for the greatest part of the game. They do what they do well - niggle, push the boundaries of fair play and very entertaining attack.

        There were a couple of tries that Souths either bombed or Melbourne were lucky to get, so the game could have quite easily gone the other way, albeit Melbourne being the better side.

        This is the frustration of being a Souths supporter. Often up there, but never the bride. They don't look like premiership winner - yet!

        Go Bunnies!

        Date and time
        May 17, 2014, 3:13PM
    • Cooper Cronk is getting perilously close to an Allan Langer standard of performance. NSW simply doesn't have anyone of that class. Last night's opposing halves, two of the front-runners for blue jerseys, we're not so much made to look ordinary as they were given little chance to shine by a relentless opposition which has finally hit its straps (poor handling and dumb penalties didn't help Souths' cause either).

      My preference had been for A. Reynolds/Sutton because the former can goalkick and the latter can also play loose forward, but maybe it should be Hodkinson/J. Reynolds or Reynolds/Reynolds, in either case with Sutton on the bench.

      Lewis Winders
      Date and time
      May 17, 2014, 7:04AM
      • You must be a QLD supporter. No one who saw that game could pick Sutton based on his all night turnstile impression. He was targeted as a weakness and they ran around and thru him all night.

        But don't worry, he's played two good games this year so there's still one left.

        Date and time
        May 17, 2014, 8:12PM
      • Ah, well, Chieftan, but at least that's two more than teacher's pet Pearce has ever played -- or ever will.

        Lewis Winders
        Date and time
        May 17, 2014, 10:35PM

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