Central Coast 46
Melbourne returned home after narrowly holding on against Cronulla a week before, to stake a claim on a top four spot against the lowly Central Coast, whose finals chances are hanging by a thread.
After a cautious start by both sides, Central Coast received a penalty close to the Storm line for a play-the-ball infringement. They instantly moved the ball from right to left and Dwan crashed over in the corner after just 5 minutes. Ndaira converted from the sideline to get the Centurions out to a 6-0 lead.
On the second tackle after the restart, Dureau linked with Davis, who threw a cut out pass to Naiqama who raced 60 metres down the right sideline before passing inside to Williams who scored unopposed between the uprights. Ndaira’s conversion was successful and in the space of 7 minutes, Central Coast were leading 12-0.
Melbourne went on the attack after Rogers almost forced himself over the try line. The ball was then spread deep and wide to Kite who stepped, fended and strode over the top of defenders in a bullocking run which saw him score under the posts. Widdop converted to bring the deficit back to six.
Melbourne lifted a gear and just four minutes after scoring their first try, they crossed for their second when Langford hitting the ball up on the Centurions line, spun out of the tackle and fell over the try line. Widdop converted from directly in front and after 24 minutes, the scores were tied.
Central Coast hit back just five minutes later when Dwan scored his second try in the left corner after some quick, flat passing created an overlap. Ndaira’s second sideline conversion was again successful.
From the restart, Central Coast worked entirely on the right side of the field before Dureau put in a kick downfield. Chisholm, running back to get to the ball received a horrible bounce and Davis managed to regather the ball for the Centurions. Ndaira spread the ball left to Fawcett who was in space and scored in the left corner. Ndaira converted from the sideline for the third time and Central Coast were back out to a 12 point lead.
Another scintillating run down the right touchline by Naiqama put the Storm on the back foot again. Fairweather scooped up the ball from the play the ball and ran in-field swerving around the few defenders and scored under the posts. Ndaira again successful with the conversion from in front, giving the Centurions a 30-12 lead.
Melbourne managed to hit back immediately when Kali scored to the left of the posts after a bomb wasn’t cleanly taken. Kelly cleaned up the scraps and spread the ball to Kali who scored. Widdop’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful and at halftime Central Coast lead 30-16.
The points continued to flow in the second half for both teams. Melbourne opened the scoring after the break after some magic by Widdop, who ducked out of a high tackle, bumped off a few defenders, stepped, fended and got an offload away to Rogers who ran away and scored between the posts. Widdop converted, bringing the scored to 30-22.
Melbourne started to lift and dominated play, until Dureau opted to run the ball on the last, passed to Naiqama, who drew two defenders before getting a pass away to Williams who had enough space to score in the right corner. Ndaira lands his fourth conversion from as many attempts from the sideline, taking the Centurions lead out to 36-22.
Another attacking raid by Central Coast saw some amazing work by Naiqama who dived and scored in the right corner while in mid air, but the try was denied as the sideline official ruled he had gone into touch because Naiqama had touched the corner post.
The Centurions employed the same tactic again by moving the ball right, drawing a defender and passing, creating an overlap for Naiqama to dive in the right corner. Ndaira amazingly kicked his fifth goal from as many attempts from the sideline.
The Storm players began getting frustrated and tempers flared a few times. The Storm defence began bunching up, leaving gaping holes out wide. Central Coast again used the method of drawing defenders and passing right to give Naiqama space on the right wing and he went over for his second. Ndaira missed his sixth sideline conversion, but with 11 minutes remaining, the Centurions had a seemingly unassailable 46-22 lead.
A cross-kick by Kelly was dropped by Fairweather in a tough contest; Vae picked up the loose ball and scored near the posts. Widdop converted and with 8 minutes left, the score was 46-28.
Melbourne again chanced their luck with a kick, when a Kelly grubber into the Centurions in-goal was dived on by Isa just 3 minutes after the last Melbourne try. Widdop’s conversion from out wide on the right was unsuccessful. With just 5 minutes left, the Storm trailed by 14.
Widdop put in another grubber early in the tackle count, which was chased through and dived on by Chisholm who scored to the right of the posts. Widdop quickly potted the goal, taking the deficit to just 8 with 2 minutes left. However neither team troubled the scorers in this time the Centurions won 46-38.
1 Jy Hitchcox
2 Maeli Seve
3 Willie Isa
16 Daniel O’Regan
22 Dane Chisholm
6 Gareth Widdop
7 Luke Kelly (c)
24 Sinbad Kali
20 Rory Kostjasyn
10 Sione Kite
11 Robbie Rochow
12 Atelea Vae
13 Billy Rogers
9 James Woolford
15 Dale Langford
17 Fred Makimare
19 Mananui Te Hue Hue
CENTRAL COAST CENTURIONS
5 Aaron Fairweather
2 Kevin Naiqama
1 Jimmy Fawcett
4 Simon Williams
20 Nick Dwan
23 Adrian Davis
7 Scott Dureau
13 Lucas Miller
9 George Ndaira
10 Sione Tovo
11 Corey Vlaciky
12 Marvin Filipo
6 Ben Wyborn
14 Chris Adams
15 Shaun Boss
16 Mitch McMahon
19 Warren Schillings
WHEN THEY SCORED
5th min - Central Coast 6-0 – Dwan try, Ndaira goal
7th min - Central Coast 12-0 – Williams try, Ndaira goal
19th min - Central Coast 12-6 – Kite try, Widdop goal
24th min - 12 all – Langford try, Widdop goal
29th min - Central Coast 18-12 – Dwan try, Ndaira goal
32nd min - Central Coast 24-12 – Fawcett try, Ndaira goal
36th min - Central Coast 30-12 – Fairweather try, Ndaira goal
39th min - Central Coast 30-16 – Kali try
46th min - Central Coast 30-22 – Rogers try, Widdop goal
52nd min - Central Coast 36-22 – Williams try, Ndaira goal
58th min - Central Coast 42-22 – Naiqama try, Ndaira goal
69th min - Central Coast 46-22 – Naiqama try
72nd min - Central Coast 46-28 – Vae try, Widdop goal
75th min - Central Coast 46-32 – Isa try
78th min - Central Coast 46-38 – Chisholm try, Widdop goal
CENTRAL COAST 46 (Dwan 2, Williams 2, Naiqama 2, Fawcett, Fairweather tries; Ndaira 7 goals)
MELBOURNE 38 (Kite, Langford, Kali, Rogers, Vae, Isa, Chisholm tries; Widdop 5 goals)
Referee: Matt Hawkins
Half-Time: Central Coast 30-16
Scrums: Central Coast 5-4
Penalties: Central Coast 6-4
Goal Kickers: Ndaira (Central Coast) 7 from 8, Widdop (Melbourne) 5 from 7
****This match report appeared in Rugby League News magazine****