Melbourne beats Manly 16-0 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Melbourne beats Manly 16-0

By Philip Henderson 08/08/2008 11:12:27 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy warned any team wanting to try to use rough house tactics to unsettle his side could meet the Storm in a "back alley" after the reigning premiers delivered an early blow for the NRL finals with a gutsy 16-10 win over leaders Manly.

The Storm ended a nine-year hoodoo at Brookvale Oval and breathed new life into their bid for a third straight minor premiership, holding off the fast-finishing Sea Eagles in a game worthy of its billing as the biggest match of the regular season.

Manly dominated the closing stages as they pushed for the game-equalling try.

But the Storm repelled their rivals for four consecutive sets to claim their third straight win against the Sea Eagles and first at Brookie since 1999.

The Storm now sit level with the team they beat in last year's decider atop the NRL ladder, with Manly ahead only on for-and-against with four rounds to play.

Halfback Cooper Cronk was brilliant for the Storm, setting up his side's two first-half tries along with Billy Slater - scored by Matt Geyer and Israel Folau - before crossing for what turned out the game-sealing try early in the second half.

Both forward packs were evenly match, with Matt Orford's kicking game perhaps the only blight on what was still an impressive performance by the Sea Eagles.

While happy with how his side ground out the win, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he wasn't overly impressed with his team's performance - or what he perceived as some rough house tactics from the Sea Eagles after Storm forward Michael Crocker and Manly prop Brent Kite exchanged punches in just the third minute.

"I know teams think now they can come out and start throwing punches and put us off our game," Bellamy said.

"Over the last couple of weeks, every week someone comes up and says there's going to be a punch up this week and headbutt competition or whatever.

"But at the end of the day if they want to turn the lights off and go down the back alley I'm sure we'll be able to handle that as well.

"But we want to play footy and I think we can adapt to any style of play and get the job down.

"It wasn't that pretty tonight, but it was gutsy, and I was really proud of them."

St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown created a stir last month by suggesting the best way to beat the Storm was to make the game a "bloodbath".

Melbourne captain Cam Smith believed since then, opposition clubs had tried to unsettle the Storm physically.

"Certainly, after the Dragons game I think every game since then have tried to come out and bash us a bit," Smith said.

"But although you can go out and do that at the start, it's pretty hard to do that for 80 minutes, so once the juice runs out that's when we try to capitalise."

Manly coach Des Hasler denied his side intentionally went out to try and "bash" the Storm.

"No, I thought we tackled and defended with a lot of intensity ... I just thought we defended really well," Hasler said.

Melbourne essentially sealed the game with tries either side of halftime. Folau scored against the run of play in the 39th minute before Cronk showed great strength and determination to bury over in the 46th.

Manly winger David Williams cut the deficit to six with his try five minutes later, but despite the Sea Eagles throwing everything at the Storm in the final 20 minutes, Melbourne's defence stood tall.

Manly were perhaps unlucky to have a try denied early in the first half after fullback Brett Stewart touched down from an Orford bomb, only to be penalised by the video ref Steve Clark for pushing Storm winger Anthony Quinn.

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