July 20, 2024

Warriors v Storm result: NZ Warriors fall to another painful NRL loss to Melbourne Storm

The recurring nightmare goes on.

The Warriors have lost in all kinds of ways to Melbourne over the years and this was another painful one.

The 38-24 defeat on Saturday night extends the negative streak to 16 games, dating back to 2015 – the longest active sequence in the NRL.

The misery was compounded by a serious-looking injury to Rocco Berry, while both Marcelo Montoya and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak were sin-binned in the second half.

The result will hurt even more given the Warriors’ hot start, as they led 14-0 after 15 minutes. But things gradually unravelled, with the Storm scoring four tries in a 15-minute first-half blitz and controlling the game from there.

The Warriors closed to within two points midway through the second period but the Storm always looked more likely winners.

The Warriors were on top for periods off the back of powerful defence, but not for long enough.

The difference was the relative maturity of the two teams. The Warriors are on the journey towards becoming a great team, while the Storm have been a great side for almost two decades. Their success has been built on a composed, swarming defence, a remarkable work ethic and a clinical attack. They are also the masters of the dark arts, which makes them such tough opponents, with their ability to get away with more than almost any other team.

That was evident again on Saturday but they thoroughly deserved their victory, built on a remarkable defensive resilience.

Kiwis halfback Jahrome Hughes was brilliant, while Eliesa Katoa enjoyed an impressive return to Mt Smart. Marata Niukore was the pick of the Warriors, as their spine didn’t click as well as in recent weeks.

Ahead of the game, the atmosphere was brilliant, with a huge sense of anticipation in the air. The 24,495-strong crowd had arrived early at Mt Smart Stadium and there was an extra edge, like a test match.

The Warriors started like a tornado. They completely monopolised possession and territory, fired up from the first carry. The Storm didn’t complete their first set until the 13th minute and spent most of that time defending their line. Adam Pompey blasted over near the posts in the sixth minute, after incessant pressure. After a Pompey penalty, some backyard footy from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad – with an outrageous behind-the-back pass – put Montoya over in the corner.

But the Storm, as they always do, found a way back, profiting from well-judged kicks – and a lack of defensive alertness from the Warriors – for their tries to Katoa and Grant Anderson. Katoa’s try released the pressure gauge, as he stole the ball from Pompey, and Melbourne could click into gear.

Their third try summed up their threat; great deception from Harry Grant, a perfect pass from Hughes and the winger Dean Ieremia in acres of space. The crowd was in mild shock by the time they scored their fourth, to Nick Meaney, after a slashing break by Katoa off Hughes to take an unlikely halftime lead.

The Warriors were revitalised after the break. Mitch Barnett celebrated his new contract with a try of sheer power and guts, before Niukore went agonisingly close, stopped by a wonderful tackle. The Warriors upped the ante defensively, with some stinging hits but the game turned quickly.

A Jazz Tevaga effort was denied by a close bunker call, before Montoya was sin-binned after consecutive offences, which led to Sualauvi Faalogo’s slashing try.

When Watene-Zelezniak was also dismissed – for a coat-hanger tackle – that was the end of the road, with Xavier Coates dotting down against the 11-man defence. A Montoya try provided some late hope before Faalogo put the seal on the Melbourne win.

Warriors 24 (Marcelo Montoya 2, Adam Pompey, Mitch Barnett tries; Adam Pompey 2 cons, pen, Chanel Harris-Tavita con)

Storm 38 (Eliesa Katoa, Grant Anderson, Dean Ieremia, Nick Meaney, Sualauvi Fa’alogo 2, Xavier Coates tries; Nick Meaney 5 cons)

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