Away side digs deep in the second half and pulls off a stunning comeback.
The Melbourne Storm have pulled off a stunning comeback in the second half at Brookvale Oval to defeat the Manly Sea Eagles 21-20 in golden point extra time.
Down by as much as 20 points, the Storm helped the Sea Eagles create history, having giving up a lead of that size for the first time at their home ground.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith was the hero for his side as he landed the winning field goal in the first half of extra time, leaving the vocal Sea Eagles’ fans stunned.
“We knew we were going to be in for a tough night, we’re always have one at Brookie,” Smith said.
“We didn’t think we’d be behind by 20, but we had a chat at half-time and we knew we were still in with a chance if we scored first.
“But we worked hard during the off-season for a game like this and to have two good teams battling it out in round one, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Steve Matai opened the scoring when two well-worked moves saw the home team splinter the
Storm defence as the Sea Eagles centre cruised across the line.
Brett Stewart could be given most of the credit for Matai’s try, with his catch-and-pass at the line oozing in quality, as the home team made the ideal start, up by four points in the fifth minute.
Manly went close to scoring when an angled grubber kick from Kieran Foran, however, Brett Stewart was not able to get an inch of the ball onto the try-line.
The Storm were made to pay early for being around the ruck for too long early in the game, with two penalties going against the home team inside their own 20 metre area.
The Sea Eagles cracked the Storm defence by misdirection once again.
After a line-break from Brett Stewart on the left wing, the ball shifted quickly to the right as Jamie Lyon drew the last defender giving club debutant Cheyse Blair his first try for the club.
Lyon struck his second conversion better than the first and gave his side a 10-point lead in just 14 minutes.
The procession continued without much let-up, as Brett Stewart again laid on try for a teammate, with a grubber close to the Storm line saw Justin Horo score untouched.
If games in the NRL was only 40 minutes long Storm coach Craig Bellamy might have thrown in the
towel such was the dominance of the Sea Eagles.
However, Lyon’s wobbles with the boot continued from 2013, with his second missed conversion for the night seeing the score move to 14-0 with Brookvale Oval then being soaked by a storm.
Melbourne got their best chance to open their account when Sisa Waqa narrowly avoided getting the ball down inside the corner, with the video ref ruling his lost the ball in trying to ground it.
Off the back of their fifth penalty for the half, Matai scored his his second for the night despite flirting dangerously with the dead-ball line.
Again the younger of the Stewart brothers was in the thick of the action as he showed his passing skills in the wet to set up Matai.
The home side were on track to match their round 25 score against the Storm last season, as they made it 20-0 in just 30 minutes of action.
Melbourne got on the board after a solid set, allowing them to find Waqa on the right wing with an accurate kick to his safe hands, as he grounded the ball to give his side something to build on.
Down 20-4 at half-time, Melbourne desperately needed to start dominating their ruck, because their defence was playing compressed as they did not have time to set-up, leaving plenty of holes for the Sea Eagles to exploit.
The Storm breathed some life back into the game when Billy Slater laid on Waqa’s second try for the game.
The score came as a result of some stiff defence by the Storm forcing a turnover, and when Smith missed the conversion, the margin shrunk to eight.
Possession, something which the Storm hardly had in the first half, continued to turn the way of the visitors early in the second term.
Manly were also dealt a blow with Brett Stewart appearing to suffer yet another hamstring strain, with the fullback icing the area in the changerooms.
However, Manly looked to continue their reputation as being one of the best defensive teams in the NRL in recent seasons when under pressure.
Ben Hampton showed he is a player to watch this season, with the new Storm five-eighth showed good footwork close to the line to crash over.
Smith slotted the extras and in the blink of an eye, Kenny Bromwich cleaned up a split bomb as Melbourne scored their third try in as many minutes
to even up the game.
After being denied a try, the Storm received a consolation prize on the hour mark, when Manly prop Josh Starling was penalised for tackling the kicker too late.
However, Smith missed the easy chance at goal in what was a golden chance to lead for the first time.
The flood of penalties against the Sea Eagles in the second half continued, with Horo placed on report for a tackle on Hampton and finally Smith landed a kick, with the Storm edging ahead by two with 15 minutes remaining.
Lyon made the score 22-all after his side got a penalty from Smith collecting his opposite number Matt Ballin with a high tackle that had to be made as he sailed towards the try-line.
The see-sawing game showed it still had plenty of twists to it, with the game up for grabs with six minutes remaining.
Cameron Smith went for the late field goal, only to see it sail wide thanks in part to a deflection from a Manly defender and both teams then headed for the first golden point term of the season and the suitably dramatic finish.