Saturday, April 25, 2009

There have been many things said about various Warriors side over the past fifteen years, but one thing that the current side can not be accused of, is lacking strong mental fortitude. They possess excesses of what is a rather handy tool, having come back for the second week in a row from a deficit. This time however they could not snatch a victory, having to settle for a 14-14 draw with the Melbourne Storm.

In a game played in terrible conditions, both teams produced what was a high standard of football, despite mother nature's worst intentions. It was end to end stuff.

The storm, after a slow first ten minutes, dominated the next forty-five minutes of play, but after Will Chambers touched down in the Warriors right hand corner, they could not add to their tally for the remainder of the match.

In fact, it was the Warriors who came home the strongest and looked most likely to score a win.

The warriors opened the scoring with a 3rd minute penalty right in front of the Storms posts, to go 2-0 up. They were strong for the first ten minutes, but from there on in, it was the Storm who dominated the match until half-time, with the assistance of a strong wind behind their backs.

In the 12th minute, Cooper Cronk licked through for Steve Turner who regathered the kick on the full and dived over in the Warriors left hand corner next to the flag. With Cameron Smiths conversion this gave the Storm a 6-2 lead.

This was extended to 10-2 when Billy Slater scores again for the Storm, after Manu Vatuvei had dropped the ball on his own twenty metre line, handing over possession to the storm who spread the ball wide. Slater, who evaded the tacfkle of Denam Kemp, slid from two metres out to get the try. The conversion misses, in what was terrible conditions for goal kickers.

Despite struggling against good go forward from the Storm for most of the half, the Warriors manage to trouble the scoreboard in the 29th minute, after the Storm knock-on and then in the ensuing set of six, the Warriors get a penalty for the storm being inside the ten metres. The warriors spread the ball wide to the Storms right hand side, where Jerome Ropati off-loads to casual acquaintance Manu Vatuvei, who dives over for the try, despite the best efforts of three Melbourne defenders.

The conversion misses and 10-6 to the storm is where the score stays until after half-time.

Ivan Cleary would have been happy going into half-time only four points down, due to the strong wind his charges ran into during the first-half.

Not so happy he would have been in the 42nd minute, when Lance Hohaia drops a towering bomb Cooper Cronk and the storm regather. Brett Finch, playing his first game for Melbourne, since leaving Parramatta, immediately spreads the ball wide to Greg Inglis, who passes to Will Chambers, who scores in the Warriors right side corner. Another missed conversion leaves the score at 14-6 in favour of Melbourne.

This was to be the last time Melbourne inflicted any damage on the Warriors goal line, despite having the better of the next fifteen minutes of play.

From the 55th minute though, the momentum swung in a big way to the Warriors, who, thanks to strong games from their props, especially Sam Rapira, made good gains up the middle of the park.

And it was in the 55th minute that Manu Vatuvei got his second try of the evening. The warriors had been attacking the Storm's right side defence to good effect and had managed to get a repeat set of six. Russel Packer made good ground up the middle. On the next play the warriors go the Storms left side defence, where Hohaia off-loads to Vatuvei who dives over in the corner to bring the score back to 14-10.

Seven minutes later, Patrick Ah Van touched down after Nathan Fien does a run around play with Steve Price, and thanks to quick passing from Stacey Jones to Ben Mautilino, they put Ah Van across the chalk.

It's 14-all and the crowd of 15000 are on the edge of their seats for the last ten minutes of normal time, as both teams have unsuccessful attempts at field goal opportunities.

Stacey Jones has a chance to seal the victory in the 2nd minute of extra time, with a sitter of a field goal, right in front of the storms goalposts and only ten metres out. The ball ricochets off the upright, and is regathered by the Warriors, alas in an off-side position.

From the ensuing penalty, Melbourne work their way to the half way mark, where Cooper Cronk dutifully attempt to claim the win. But no, he misses, as the kick goes well wide, to the right of the posts.

Neither team could capitalise on chances for the remaining six minutes. Hohaia slotted a field-goal in the 90th minute, but this was off a Stacey Jones pass. Referee Tony Archer was unsure whether Jones had knocked on and referred it to the video ref, who denied the Goal.

After another twenty seconds of play, full time was blown on what turned out to be a an enthralling game of football.

The Warriors got extremely good service out of their props, with Rapira and Packer continuing to impress each week.

Lance Hohaia is fast becoming a player the Warriors can not do without. He is proof a player that is classed as a utility can still be a star and can contribute an considerable amount to a teams cause, without having to be in the starting line-up. Whatever his contract is, he is worth every dollar of it.

The most positive aspect of their performance was, apart from good defence, a tremendous kick-chase effort all night. On the whole, Melbourne where not given the opportunity to return the ball out of their own red zone with any great purchase.

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