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Storm stick to winning - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Mon, 17 Mar 2008 22:27:00 GMT
Melbourne Storm successfully defended their NRL title for the first time in 2008 after snatching an emphatic 32-18 win over the New Zealand Warriors at the Telstra Dome on Monday night.
Storm fullback Billy Slater proved too much to handle for the visitors, scoring three tries of his own and only narrowly falling short of becoming the leading NRL try-scorer at the end of round 1.
Slater does however now move into second-spot on the Storm’s all-time try-scorers list with 73 next to his name.
A strong crowd of 20, 084 turned out to see the reigning premiers lead 16-12 at the break and then blow the Kiwis away through a try to Dallas Johnson (51st min), two penalty goals from Cameron Smith and a four-pointer on debut from second-rower Sam Tagataese.
Tries to Jerome Ropati and Manu Vatuvei and some accurate goal kicking form five-eighth Michael Witt kept the underdogs competitive and in the contest before the break.
But then they were unable to score any more points until Vatuvei bolted over the line in the 78th minute for a complimentary try which Micheal Witt successfully converted.
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary put his team’s first round loss down to the inability to build pressure in the second-half combined with “too many…schoolboy errors.”
Both sides face a nervous wait on the injury front.
Melbourne second-rower Ryan Hoffman went off with a rib injury in the 17th minute while Warriors skipper Steve Price followed suit later on with what is believed to be a hamstring tear.
The Storm could however get a slap on the wrist by the NRL after twice appearing late on the playing arena.

This reporter didn't mind the game starting late as he was at tafe doing an exam and needed all the time in the world to get back home.

Melbourne 32 (B Slater 3, D Johnson, S Tagatese tries; C Smith 6 goals) d New Zealand Warriors 18 (Jerome Ropati, M Vatuvei 2 tries; M Witt 3 goals) at Telstra Dome. Crowd: 20, 084 Game Grade: 6 balls out of ten. - Read More, Here