Storm beat Brisbane in a thriller - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm beat Brisbane in a thriller

Wayne Heming 07/05/2011 10:57:48 PM Comments (0)

Gritty Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk looked liked he'd gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson after sparking his side to a thrilling 29-22 NRL win over a courageous Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

The game was in the balance until the final minute when Storm winger Anthony Quinn won a mad scramble for a Cameron Smith grubber kick.

Minutes earlier Cronk had split the uprights with a 40-metre field goal to break a 22-all deadlock.

Sporting some battle wounds from Friday night's rugged Test win over the Kiwis, Cronk was easy to spot, his head wrapped in bandages after an early collision had opened him up.

The game evolved into a cracker after Melbourne led 12-0 early and 22-12 with 20 minutes remaining.

Brisbane fullback Gerard Beale couldn't get a start for New Zealand in Friday night's Test but the classy youngster served up two tries as the Broncos charged back into the game.

Another of Brisbane's young nursery, winger Dane Gagai, provided a piece of magic in the 71st minute which tied the scores at 22-22.

After a Peter Wallace bomb into the left corner, which Storm winger Anthony Quinn got both hands on, Gagai plucked the ball from Quinn's grasp and planted it one handed for a try that ignited the 34,000-strong crowd.

Brisbane took the field without their four Test guns - headed by skipper Darren Lockyer, watching from the stands along with Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday and Ben Hannant.

As they watched on Brisbane's young crop showed their fans there would be life after Lockyer with a tenacious display highlighted by two comebacks when Melbourne looked like breaking the game open.

Beale, Jack Reed - who scored the try of the match after beating three Storm defenders to the line in the second half - and David Hala all impressed.

Cronk, Smith and fullback Billy Slater turned in whole hearted performances backing up 24 hours after playing their hearts out for Australia.

The trio was magnificent, Smith and Cronk combining to open Brisbane up through the ruck and Slater making big metres.

For Brisbane Wallace was great, probing with the ball, kicking cleverly and defending stoutly despite being smashed several times by Storm defenders.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said the efforts of his representative players to back up were a credit to them.

He signalled out Ryan Hinchcliffe, who after his man-of-the match performance for Country Origin on Friday night backed-up along with Smith, Cronk, Slater and Kiwi Adam Blair.

"Ryan had a three-hour car ride and another two hours in the plane and didn't get much sleep. It was a great effort from him," said Bellamy.

Bellamy said he didn't want Hinchcliffe or any of his stars to have to back up but felt he would have "copped a smack in the mouth" had he pulled any of them out at the last minute.

He conceded the class touches of Cronk, Smith and Slater when the game was on the line probably proved the difference in the end.

"You always feel reasonably safe when you got Smith, Cronk and Slater out there," he said.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin refused to make any excuses after Brisbane's seven-game winning streak came to an end without their Test stars.

"We beat ourselves," he said after sticking by his decision to not let his big name players back up.

"Darren Lockyer, Justin Hodges and Sam Thaiday couldn't back up.

"Had we forced them to back up and ignored them (injuries) we would have been the dumbest club in the world."

Stand-in captain Parker couldn't hang around for the post-match post mortem with his wife Margaux reportedly going into early labour.

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