South Sydney are the Storms ‘bunnies’ of the NRL, and tonight was no exception, Melbourne maintaining their astounding 83% win rate and extending their home undefeated streak to 16 games against Wayne Bennett’s men.
Melbourne weren’t as convincing as the scoreboard reads, uncharacteristic errors preventing them from shutting the Rabbitohs out of the game and never looking threatening in their attacking 20.
After a slow start, Souths dominated most of the first half but two long range Melbourne tries – the latter against the run of play late in the half – gave the home side an 8-6 lead after 40 minutes, stalwart hooker Cam Smith missing both conversions.
Cameron Munster was pivotal for the Storm, and arguably the deciding factor between the sides with a try assist, line break and five tackle breaks. Concocting tries with his attacking flair and superhuman vision, whilst remaining a key pillar in defence.
Latrell Mitchell is looking more like a fullback with each passing week, he was looking to get himself involved and came away with ten tackle breaks, two line break assists and a try assist to show for it.
South Sydney’s lone try of the night was born out of Latrell Mitchell brilliance, a deadly cut out pass leaving Suliasi Vunivalu stunned and out of position. Alex Johnston reaped the rewards, athletically grounding the ball in-goal before being barreled into touch. The 16th minute try swinging the ledger in the Rabbitohs favour for the only time of the night.
Johnston diving for the Rabbitohs only try of the night
Storm opened the scoring after finding Vunivalu open on the short side outside the 40, his run drew Mitchell before passing in to support runner Ryan Papenhuyzen who had open road ahead.
After a period of Souths dominance, Storm came from nowhere to score again. Munster was opportunistic, taking the ball from dummy half and dancing through the off guard Rabbitohs. Instead of putting on the after burners in a foot race to the try line, Munster hit the brakes and found his playmaking counterpart Jahrome Hughes. Hughes grubbered to the right corner and a perfect bounce sat for Vunivalu, narrowly escaping the grasp of a flailing Johnston to give Melbourne a narrow yet unjust two point lead at the half.
South Sydney earnt an early second half penalty, but any efforts to regain their first half momentum were extinguished by one out-of-this-world Papenhuyzen leap. The full back timing his jump to perfection and momentarily growing wings, flying at least three metres to smack the Rabbtiohs kick for touch back into play and nullify their penalty.
The Bunker threw South Sydney a lifeline after Hughes ran in an easy try, somehow ruling Cook was obstructed even though he had enough time to over run the ball carrier.
The sides exchanged penalty goals, briefly giving Souths a share of the lead before Cam Smith pushed the margin back to two.
The Storm had an eight point lead after Munster expertly applied his vision, chipping to the back left corner of the in-goal area for Addo-Carr to slide in and collect. A well deserved try after battling a rib injury for the most of the night and also ending his four game try-less ‘slump’.
Justin Olam (left) and Josh Addo-Carr (right) celebrating Addo-Carr's try
The Rabbitohs pushed the Storm hard late in the game. Smith and Munster combined to hold Gagai up on the try line. The wounded Addo-Carr was caught out on the wing but his fortuitous outstretched arm knocked the ball down. They also scored a try that was disallowed by The Bunker, in this instance for a more plausible obstruction.
At the close, South Sydney would be left to lament their 18 errors and 63% completion rate, failing to take advantage of opportunities handed to them on a silver plate by the Storm who didn’t fare overly well in the error department themselves.
With the game nearly over and defeat the only possibility for Souths, Justin Olam swaggered in for a try all too easily. The crowning stroke on an entertaining display that either team refused to put to bed.
Melbourne reaffirmed that they know how to get the job the done, and are still a force to reckoned with. South Sydney on the other hand head home in a precarious position sitting at 1-3 in a shortened season.