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Dream start for unknown - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 08:17:00 GMT
For many Olympic Park is considered the ‘graveyard’ but for 17-year-old Israel Folau last night it became the field of dreams.

Not listed for the Storm in this year’s NRL season guide, the Sydney-born winger probably secured his place in next year’s edition after scoring his maiden try in the NRL.

It was an incredible start for the youngest player ever to turn out for the Storm in the club’s 10-year history after Folau learned earlier this week that the media and his own club had been spelling his surname incorrectly.

Targeted for his perceived lack of big-game experience, the replacement winger for the injured Steve Turner coped with all the high kicks coming his way inside the opening half hour.

But it was the second-half where he etched his name in League history, glueing himself to the ball off a Cameron Smith cross-field kick before then powering his way through the defense of Paul Whatuira and Brett Hodgson to grab his fairy-tale touchdown.

With such an impressive performance on debut,Storm coach Craig Bellamy is probably looking at a selection migraine for the Storm’s round 2 clash against Canberra.

While Melbourne officials were probably hoping for a bigger attendance figure than 13,535, they wouldn’t be unhappy with the sea of purple, white, orange and black that did turn up.

Last night’s crowd figure was up on the 9,084 that ventured into Olympic Park for the Storm’s first home game last season. Some fans may also have opted to watch the game live on TV at home.

With no AFL on last night, the Storm’s first live home game of 2007 was the perfect opportunity to pitch Rugby League to the hearts and minds of Victoria.

Given the volatile nature of last night’s game and with neither side leading by more then six-points during the entire contest, for any first-timers tuning in it was a edge of your seat stuff.

It was a disappointing night for some of the Tigers forwards with handling errors and high tackles giving the Storm more field position then what coach Tim Sheens would’ve liked.

Both sides demonstrated committed defence while fairing well with their new halves combinations.

New Tigers halfback John Morris and recently promoted Storm five-eighth, Greg Inglis each set up 1 try last night off passes and showed commitment to the task though both can still improve in defence.

MELBOURNE 18 (J Smith, R Hoffman, I Folau tries; C Smith 3 goals) def Wests Tigers 16 (J Moodie, B Harrison, P Whatuira tries; B Marshall 2 goals) at Olympic Park. Referee: S Hampstead. Crowd: 13,535 Penalties: Wests Tigers 8-7 Line Drop Outs: 1-1 Video Referee Referrals: 3 (Storm 2, Tigers 1) - Read More, Here