Melbourne secure extra time win
In the first match of the 2009 rugby league season, the Melbourne Storm have secured a 17-16 victory in extra time, over the St George Dragons. After being locked at 16-16, three tries a piece at the end of regular time, Greg Inglis, kicked a field goal from twenty metres out, to give his side a winning start to the new season.
The Dragons started the game well, and opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty goal, to go 2-0 up.
It was fast, end to end action for the next ten minutes, with the referees playing an unobtrusive role, until Inglis bumped off Jamie Soward, to score in the corner.
At 4-2, this was a good result for the storm, as the Dragons had had the better of the match thus far.
In the 21st minute the Dragons struck back, after Melbourne winger Anthony Quin made a complete hash of a Dragons bomb, with a try by their captain, Matt Cooper, which was converted by Soward, taking the score to 8-4 in favour of the Dragons.
The score remained the same for the rest of what was a good standard of play, for the first match of the season.
The Storm had a good start to the second half, with a try to Billy Slater, who was not so silly now, as he ran into a gap off a Cameron Smith short pass, to touch down five metres to the left of the uprights. 10-8 to the storm after Smith converts.
Twelve minutes later, Soward levelled things up for the Dragons, and with twenty-two minutes to go, it was game on.
The storm at this stage looked to apply the blow torch to the Dragons, and managed to crack St George in the 65th minute with a converted try to halfback, Cooper Cronk.
Melbourne appeared to have the match under control, until Wendel Sailor in the 78th minute, beat two storm players in his own 20 and headed down the field in search of the Melbourne goal line. The storm managed to reel him in, but not before he off-loaded to his captain, Cooper who raced off, to score in the corner, to bring them within two points of Melbourne.
Soward was ice cool in converting and forcing the game into extra time.
Both teams had chances to close out the game early on, with Soward narrowly missing a fifty metre drop goal attempt first up.
After another attempt by both sides, Inglis cooly slotted the winning drop goal, to secure his team a hard won 17-16 victory.
One of the highlights of the match, was the lack of the deservedly maligned grapple tackle. With two referees on the field, the players were not able to use alot of the wrestling tactics that they have over the last couple of seasons.
If a closer eye is cast, the keen observer will see that the players still use subtle means of slowing the play the ball down, but the advent of the second referee appears to have rid the game of the more nortorious tactics in the tackle.
The match flowed well, the second referee did not get in the way of the players and there was not an excessive ammount of penalties.
It seems the NRL are onto a winner with the two referee system, and it should be here to stay.