NRL Match Report v Storm

The Melbourne Storm have snapped a three game winless streak, and at the same time ended the Roosters' five game winning streak with a grinding 26-18 victory at Allianz Stadium.


The 19,164 fans on deck will be seething after a string of 50-50 calls went against the home side at crucial stages of the epic battle.


Jake Friend racked up 50 tackles for the tri-colours in another Herculean display, while James Maloney showed why his name is being thrown around for State of Origin.


A Mitchell Pearce bomb in the first minute almost paid dividends, with Anthony Minichiello beating Billy Slater in the contest. However, the referees found an infringement from the home side, which put an end to the threat.


The visitors were then handed excellent field position via a second early penalty, and this time they capitalised. Cooper Cronk picked out Slater with an inch perfect kick. The Queensland fullback then batted it on to Maurice Blair, whose long ball put Justin O'Neill over in the corner. Cameron Smith made no mistakes with the challenging sideline conversion.


An uncharacteristic error from Sonny Bill Williams presented the Storm with another chance to test the competition's best defence. While they couldn't crack them, they were able to force a drop out.


Back to back sets soon became three in a row when the Roosters were penalised for a shoulder charge. After surviving 20 tackles on their own line, the home side cracked for the second time, when a double cut out ball from Cameron Smith and some nice play from Gareth Widdop combined to put Maurice Blair over for his second try of the year.


The 12-0 scoreline was indicative of the possession flow, with the visitors enjoying 63% of the ball in the opening 20 minutes.


After 19 minutes, the Roosters celebrated their first penalty like they had just won the lottery. Ecstasy turned to anguish when the referees didn't restart the tackle count after what looked like an attempted charge down by a Melbourne player. Suddenly the crowd were acting as if they had just lost that winning ticket.


A scintillating back three movement from a kick return brought the crowd back to life, with Daniel Tupou threatening to go the length of the field.


The run gave the side the impetus they needed, and after getting a six again call, as well as a penalty in the ruck, the home side got on the board via a very unlikely source. Benefiting from a gorgeous cut out ball from Jake Friend, veteran hard man Luke O'Donnell barged over to celebrate his first try since coming to the Roosters.


It didn't take long for the Storm to respond, and it came from a familiar source. After taking a Maloney bomb, Slater sliced his way through four would be defenders before the possible Origin incumbent shut the attacking raid down.


A penalty for a late hit on Pearce gave the Roosters a shot deep in Melbourne territory, but this time they couldn't find any defensive chinks.


And then, with four minutes left in the half, the Roosters levelled the scores through a try that had you blinked, you would have certainly missed. A Maloney bomb looked to have been defused by Sisa Waqa, only for the ball to squirt free. A surprised Michael Jennings scooped up the loose ball and duly touched down under the posts.


Roosters fans would have been filthy after a couple of calls went against their side in the final minute of the half. To make matters worse, Melbourne's big three combined to give them a six point lead at the break. A cross field kick from Cronk was meant for Slater, but in the end it was Storm skipper Smith who fell on the loose ball with the siren sounding in the distance.


Jake Friend was a machine in the first half, racking up a whopping 28 tackles, while O'Donnell was brutal with ball in hand, carting the ball forward for just under 100 metres.


It was a rather sloppy start to the second half, with both sides struggling to complete their sets. It was a complete contrast to the opening stanza, where both sides completed at 90%.


In fact, the third quarter of the match was a combination of errors, penalties, players slipping over and general untidiness.


A raking grubber from Smith back against the grain caught everyone by surprise; except Melbourne debutant Jordan McLean. Much to the delight of the Allianz faithful, both the on field officials and the men upstairs ruled that the youngster was held up.


Cooper Cronk might find himself in not water after being placed on report for a lifting tackle on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the 60th minute.


From the ensuing penalty, the Roosters spread the ball left, only for former Bondi boy Waqa to race 60 metres via an intercept. Fortunately, the likely NSW halves pairing were on hand to shut him down.


Three plays later, the Storm worked the ball to their right edge, where a one on one miss allowed Will Chambers to stroll through for a fairly soft try. The missed conversion left the margin at ten points with 15 minutes to play.


As hard as the Roosters tried, they couldn't find a way back into the match. The defending premiers controlled the grind during the final ten minutes, and even managed to extend their lead through a Cameron Smith penalty goal.


Just when it looked all doom and gloom, the Roosters revived their slim chances with a try to Tuivasa-Sheck in the corner. The short kick off from Maloney was recovered by Jennings, and from the next play, Maloney scooted away to put his flying winger over. The Bondi favourite then showed composure beyond his years to nail the sideline conversion from his least favoured side.


The miracle comeback looked even more likely when a slick chain of passes combined to put Shaun Kenny-Dowall away. However, with a full set of six up their sleeves, a loose ball ended up with the Storm, ending the match.


The visitors were given a late penalty which Smith duly converted to condemn the Roosters to a tough 26-18 loss.


Both teams will enjoy the week off in round 12 after a difficult month of football. Both sides will remain in the top four after what has been a possible Grand Final rehearsal.