Western Suburbs 18
Second placed Western Suburbs travelled to Melbourne to take on an in-form Melbourne side in what was always going to prove to be a tough match for both sides.
Right from the kick-off Melbourne were on top early. The kick-off was fielded by Falcone who stepped on the dead-ball line. Melbourne got the ball back from the drop-out and in the very first hit-up, Rogers busted through the middle, offloaded to Hitchcox who scored under the posts with the clock almost at 1 minute. Chisholm converted and Melbourne led 6-0.
Just four minutes later Makimare busted through the Magpies defence and after running 30 metres, passed inside to Hitchcox, who stepped through the chasing defence to score under the posts for the second time in just five minutes. Chisholm again converted and the Storm were up 12-0 after 5 minutes, and looking like they were going to run up a cricket score.
The Melbourne forwards were making very easy metres up the middle of the field and threatened at all times with the ball in hand, but three consecutive big hits by Andrew Pearn caused a turn-over. For the next 20 minutes play was almost entirely dictated by Wests in the Storm half, with most of their attack directed at the Storm left edge, but was fruitless every time.
Wests were 10 metres short of the line, when a Corby pass from dummy half went behind the players. Pritchard turned around to collect the ball and some great stepping through the broken play saw him cross the line to the left of the posts. Corby converted the try and Wests had reduced the lead to 6.
Melbourne’s goal-line defence was very impressive for the entirety of the first half, especially on the left side. Wests attacked the Storm left side seven times in the first half alone, all of which were unsuccessful.
Jamie Sharkie made a break but was brought down 20 metres shy, with no one in support and the try line open. Soon after, Hitchcox made a break down the Magpies right hand side touchline, as the defence closed in he threw a pass inside, but it missed its mark and was cleaned up by Skandalis.
Two quick play-the-balls by Wests saw them travel 60 metres downfield and again attacking the Storm left corner, only to once again come away with nothing. Kelly kicked a 40/20 to get the Storm out of their own half and on the attack, but a poor kick at the end of the set went dead.
Wests made easy metres down the ground and once again went left-side only to see the play diffused once again.
At halftime, Melbourne led 12-6. Wests had the majority of possession, and in key field position, but poor last tackle options meant that they never appeared likely to score.
Strong defence early in the second half by both sides saw cheap turn-overs early in the tackle count. Woolford scored after barging over from dummy half nine minutes into the second half. Chisholm converted and Melbourne lead 18-6 with half an hour left to play.
Some fantastic defence by Wests kept Melbourne inside their own 20 after 4 tackles. Chisholm attempted a chip and chase but he was unable to regather the ball cleanly and Wests picked up the ball and went immediately on the attack. However the first hit-up saw the ball go to ground after a huge hit on Pearn knocked the ball loose.
Melbourne immediately shifted the ball wide and Isa made a break down the Wests right side and is brought down just 5 metres shy of the Magpies a try line. Seve received a quick pass from dummy half and scored in the right corner. Chisholm missed the conversion from out wide. With 20 minutes to go, Melbourne led 22-6.
Bromwich made a break up the middle and passed inside to Widdop who almost makes it to the try line before being brought down. A quick play the ball and pass from dummy half saw O’Regan cross the line out wide on the left side. Chisholm again missed with the difficult conversion attempt
With 11 minutes to go, the Storm attack kept making huge metres. Bromwich scored after running through some weak defence and fell over the line for a try next to the posts. Chisholm converted which essentially put the game to bed, with Melbourne leading 32-6.
Wests however weren’t going home yet. Josh Davis, who had been put on report for lifting in a tackle, ran hard and straight onto a pass, broke through the Storm defence and scored. Corby converted to reduce the deficit to 20.
Just 3 minutes later, a chip kick by Aiga is allowed to bounce by Chisholm. Falcone regathered the ball, passed to Pritchard who scored untouched. Corby converted to bring the score back to 32-18.
With just 2 minutes to go, Melbourne retained possession after a short restart. The instantly moved play left and Seve managed to cross the line for the second time. Chisholm missed the conversion attempt from out wide. Melbourne running out 36-18 winners.
1 Justin O’Neill
2 Dane Chisholm
3 Willie Isa
4 Chase Stanley
23 Marion Seve
6 Gareth Widdop
7 Luke Kelly
19 Jesse Bromwich
9 James Woolford
10 Sione Kite
11 Fred Makimare
12 Hep Cahill
13 Billy Rogers
14 Dale Langford
15 Mananui Te Hue Hue
16 Daniel O’Regan
22 Jy Hitchcox
WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES
4 Rhys Pritchard
2 Troy O’Sullivan
3 Andrew Everingham
12 Josh Davis
5 Gus Aiga
6 Ben Falcone
7 Nathan Waters
8 Duan Poanecki
9 Chris Corby
10 Andrew Pearn
11 Nu Akeripa
20 Alex Raineri
13 Jamie Sharkie
14 David Harris
16 Kurt Kara
19 Michael Stolk
24 John Skandalis
WHEN THEY SCORED
1st min - Melbourne 6-0 – Hitchcox try, Chisholm goal
5th min - Melbourne 12-0 – Hitchcox try, Chisholm goal
31st min - Melbourne 12-6 – Pritchard try, Corby goal
50th min - Melbourne 18-6 – Woolford try, Chisholm goal
61st min - Melbourne 22-6 – Seve try
66th min - Melbourne 26-6 – O’Regan try
71st min - Melbourne 32-6 – Bromwich try, Chisholm goal
74th min - Melbourne 32-12 – Davis try, Corby goal
77th min - Melbourne 32-18 – Pritchard try, Corby goal
80th min - Melbourne 36-18 – Seve try
MELBOURNE 36 (Hitchcox 2, Seve 2, Woolford, O’Neill, Bromwich tries; Chisholm 4 goals)
WESTERN SUBURBS 18 (Pritchard 2, Davis tries; Corby 3 goals)
Referee: Jon Stone
Touch Judges: Greg Banks, Aaron McRoberts
Half-Time: Melbourne 12-6
Scrums: Wests 8-5
Penalties: Melbourne 6-4
Goal Kickers: Chisholm (Melbourne) 4 from 7; Corby (Western Suburbs) 3 from 3
****This match report appeared in Rugby League News magazine****