Storm hits 20 wins after beating Manly - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm hits 20 wins after beating Manly

02/09/2006 09:57:32 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne left Manly's hopes of hosting a NRL home final hanging on the outcome of other last round matches after it marched to a 30-20 win at Olympic Park.

The Storm's victory was its 20th of the season and players were able to celebrate by lifting the J J Giltinan Shield, presented by NRL boss David Gallop to the minor premiers.

They will host Parramatta in their final next Sunday, while the Sea Eagles' fate won't be decided until the completion of the round.

A desperate Manly, missing injured skipper Ben Kennedy, dominated the bulk of the first half and only trailed 16-10 at the break but the Storm, which has only lost once at Olympic Park this year, came home too strongly.

Melbourne started well with whiz kid Greg Inglis opening the scoring off a Cooper Cronk bomb into the in-goal in the sixth minute.

Cronk and Manly halfback Matt Orford, who left the Storm last season, have been touted as frontrunners for Kangaroos selection and shared the honours.

After the early positive start Melbourne seemed to lose its way and was uncharacteristically poor in defence and made a number of handling errors.

Credit also must go to the Sea Eagles, who continued to pressure the home side and came up with tries to former Storm centre Steve Bell and winger Michael Robertson.

The Storm settled toward the end of the half and again hit the front through Dally M player of the year favourite, hooker Cameron Smith, and Michael Crocker.

Former Queensland Origin backrower Crocker returned from a two-week suspension and made up for lost time with a rampaging performance off the interchange bench.

Manly was first pointscorer in the second half through fullback Brett Stewart to close the gap to just two until the Storm backline fired again in the 56th minute.

After a break by Crocker, Matt Geyer leapt high to snatch a perfectly weighted bomb by Cronk and planted the ball across the line.

The evergreen winger was also involved in an earlier incident with Manly forward Shayne Dunley placed on report after a dangerous lifting tackle on Geyer.

Winger Steve Turner then crossed after a superb team effort and with hooker Cameron Smith booting his fourth goal, to add to his first half try, the Storm were almost home and hosed.

Manly continued to battle on and hardworking centre Steve Matai was rewarded with a try with just over six minutes remaining but the night belonged to Melbourne, with Geyer adding a late penalty to the total.

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