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Storm have a true-blue local to call their own


Stathi Paxinos

Melbourne 24 Gold Coast 16

Wrong man ... Billy Slater of the Storm runs in for a try as the referee is tackled.

Wrong man ... Billy Slater of the Storm runs in for a try as the referee is tackled. Photo: Getty Images


THE Melbourne Storm made history last night and it had nothing to do with their 24-16 win over Gold Coast at AAMI Park.

The story of the night was the unveiling of the Storm's first true-blue Victorian talent as Mahe Fonua played his first NRL game.

Former Storm players Jeremy Smith and Jake Webster spent part of their childhood in Melbourne but both received their rugby league grounding in the code's heartlands.

Fonua has come up through the local ranks, playing in the under-age Victorian teams and the Storm's academy system and under-20s.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Fonua's presence had been a great moment for the club. ''It was a fantastic night for the club to have a Melbourne born and bred rugby league player play first grade for the Storm,'' said Bellamy, who admitted he had misled media by denying Fonua would play last night because the youngster told him he did not want the pressure.

The Storm's performance in the first half bore little resemblance to the team that steamrolled a poor Penrith 46-6 last week but revived memories of the form slump in which they lost six from seven games.

Teammates comforted Fonua after he fumbled the ball in the first half and his confidence appeared to grow. However, it did not take long for the Titans to begin targeting the new left winger, exposing his inexperience.

The Titans scored their first try when Fonua was drawn infield in defence. A neat cut-out pass by David Mead gave Michaels an easy run to the tryline to score.

Although the damage was limited when Scott Prince missed the sideline conversion attempt, Fonua dropped a straightforward pass from Billy Slater.

The Titans then zeroed in on Fonua, again kicking to his wing. The teenager went up AFL style with hands high and Michaels swatted the ball from his grasp.

Ridge scored his first NRL try from the next set, barging through thin defence close to the line. Prince made the conversion and in what is becoming a familiar scenario, the Storm were chasing a large deficit as the Titans went into half-time 10-0 ahead.

An Olympic-scale Bellamy bollocking made all the difference in the second half. ''I lost my cool a bit at half-time,'' Bellamy said. ''There were a couple of things we obviously we didn't learn from last week. The Gold Coast were out-muscling us, they were out-working us, they were out-enthusing us, but to their credit Cameron [Smith] got the boys together and sorted it out.''

Fonua overcome his shaky first half to be denied two tries in the second. The first was ruled out due to a forward pass and desperate Titans defence blocked the other. Fonua also took an impressive AFL-style hands-up take of a Titans bomb that would have looked at home on the MCG.

Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk scored tries within the first six minutes of the break to take a 12-10 lead. Tries to Ryan Hoffman in the 60th minute and then Gareth Widdop in the 75th ended the Titans charge.

Melbourne looked back to their best when Slater sliced through the Titans defence to score although Gold Coast players complained that one of the referees got in the way of the defence.

Smith converted and then moments later set up the next try when he caught out the dummy-half defenders and sent Widdop free with a flick pass. Cronk followed up and from the tackle ran through the disorganised defence to score and with Smith's conversion give the Storm a 12-10 lead.

Hoffman scored the Storm's third try after 60 minutes which with Smith's conversion gave Melbourne a seemingly match-winning 18-10 lead. A try to Mead after 70 minutes gave the Titans a late chance until the Widdop try.

The Titans will leave Melbourne with a heavy injury toll. Luke Bailey blew an Achilles tendon and Ashley Harrison injured a glute in warm-up and played only part of the game.

MELBOURNE 24 (C Cronk R Hoffman B Slater G Widdop tries C Smith 4 goals) bt GOLD COAST 16 (D Mead S Michaels B Ridge tries S Prince 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Referees: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 9108

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NEW 24vs NZW 14 Report Stats
GCT 18vs WST 19 Report Stats
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CRO 20vs CBR 24 Report Stats
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CBY 32vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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PEN 40vs GCT 0 Report Stats
MAN 24vs MEL 22 Stats
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SOU 34vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6vs NZW 18 Report Stats
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MAN 12vs CBY 16 Report Stats
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CBR 20vs STG 22 Report Stats
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SOU 20vs WST 6 Report Stats
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PAR 29vs SOU 16 Report Stats
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CBY 17vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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MAN 16vs CBR 29 Report Stats
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MEL 30vs NZW 14 Report Stats
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NEW 22vs PAR 28 Report Stats
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CRO 18vs SOU 10 Stats
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CBR 56vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
NQL 23vs CBY 16 Stats
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Round 10
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CBY 10vs SYD 24 Stats
NQL 31vs BRI 20 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 13vs NZW 17 Report Stats
GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
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STG 32vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
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MAN 10vs PEN 11 Stats
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Round 11
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SOU 14vs PAR 12 Report Stats
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WST 0vs NQL 8 Stats
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CBR 34vs CBY 41 Stats
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NEW 18vs BRI 31 Stats
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Round 12
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PEN 20vs PAR 26 Stats
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GCT 16vs SOU 22 Report Stats
CBR 12vs BRI 24 Stats
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NZW 24vs NEW 20 Stats
STG 42vs CRO 6 Stats
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Round 13
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BRI 44vs MAN 10 Report Stats
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NEW 22vs CBR 44 Stats
SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
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CRO 10vs SYD 4 Stats
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PAR 30vs NQL 36 Report Stats
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WST 34vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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NZW 21vs SYD 25 Report Stats
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GCT 28vs CBY 14 Stats
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MEL 22vs PAR 26 Report Stats
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Round 15
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MAN 30vs WST 20 Report Stats
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CBR 20vs NQL 21 Report Stats
GCT 14vs NZW 36 Report Stats
CBY 24vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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NEW 28vs CRO 30 Report Stats
MEL 12vs BRI 14 Report Stats
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG 14vs SYD 19 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI 44vs NEW 22 Stats
SOU 20vs MAN 8 Report Stats
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NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
PAR 16vs STG 12 Report Stats
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SYD 20vs GCT 10 Stats
WST 12vs PEN 35 Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 20vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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STG 12vs NQL 18 Report Stats
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WST 16vs PAR 28 Stats
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Round 18
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CBR 36vs NEW 22 Stats
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CBY 8vs BRI 16 Stats
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CRO 28vs STG 8 Report Stats
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Round 19
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PAR 4vs CBY 28 Report Stats
MEL 52vs PEN 10 Report Stats
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CBR 20vs CRO 21 Report Stats
NEW 30vs GCT 2 Report Stats
STG 8vs SOU 24 Report Stats
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SYD 24vs NZW 0 Report Stats
BRI 42vs WST 16 Stats
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MAN 12vs NQL 30 Stats
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Round 20
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BRI 34vs GCT 0 Report Stats
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NZW 12vs MAN 32 Stats
MEL 22vs STG 4 Stats
SOU 52vs NEW 6 Stats
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PEN 24vs CBR 34 Report Stats
CBY 16vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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NQL 46vs PAR 4 Stats
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Round 21
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SYD 38vs CBY 28 Report Stats
WST 34vs MEL 16 Report Stats
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NZW 14vs CRO 18 Stats
NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
MAN 44vs BRI 14 Stats
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STG 46vs NEW 24 Stats
SOU 20vs PEN 16 Report Stats
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GCT 24vs PAR 14 Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 16vs CBY 18 Report Stats
MAN 28vs SOU 8 Stats
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NZW 0vs STG 36 Stats
CRO 30vs NQL 18 Stats
PAR 10vs PEN 4 Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
NEW 22vs SYD 38 Report Stats
Mon, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
CBR 18vs WST 20 Stats
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Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
NQL 18vs SOU 31 Stats
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 32vs STG 6 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
WST 18vs NEW 24 Stats
PEN 24vs NZW 10 Stats
SYD 28vs PAR 18 Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
CBR 24vs MAN 26 Stats
CBY 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
Mon, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 2vs MEL 30 Stats
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Round 24
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG 19vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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SOU 18vs CBY 32 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 40vs WST 18 Report Stats
NZW 16vs NQL 50 Report Stats
SYD 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
GCT 28vs CBR 12 Stats
MAN 16vs PAR 20 Report Stats
Mon, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 6vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 12vs BRI 47 Report Stats
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 10vs SYD 46 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 28vs CRO 35 Stats
NEW 18vs CBY 20 Stats
MEL 14vs NQL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
WST 50vs NZW 16 Report Stats
GCT 28vs STG 26 Stats
Mon, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
CBR 34vs PEN 18 Stats
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Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI 8vs MEL 15 Report Stats
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 30vs SOU 0 Report Stats
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PEN 30vs NEW 12 Stats
STG 32vs WST 30 Stats
NQL 42vs GCT 12 Stats
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PAR 24vs CBR 28 Stats
CRO 12vs MAN 14 Stats
CBY 26vs NZW 22 Stats
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CRO 28vs SOU 12 Report Stats
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SYD 38vs CBY 12 Report Stats
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NQL 39vs CRO 0 Report Stats
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