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NZ Warriors unable to weather the Storm


The NZ Warriors have continued their long-standing futility against the Melbourne Storm after squandering an early lead to fall to a comprehensive 38-24 loss in Auckland on Saturday night.


While there was plenty of drama to come later in the contest, the ladder-leaders set themselves up for their 16th-straight victory over the Kiwi side with a gritty defensive showing through an opening quarter in which next to nothing went their way. 


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Having hit the 13th minute mark with just eight percent of the possession and 68 completed tackles to their opponents' eight, Melbourne would have taken heart from being down only 8-0, and by halftime they had fought back to lead 20-14. 


After Adam Pompey bowled over from close range and the Warriors added a penalty goal, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad popped a no-look flick pass behind his back to find an unmarked Marcelo Montoya in the corner.  


But when finally given the chance to get off their own line, the Storm took immediate advantage, with Eliesa Katoa taking the ball from the grasp of Pompey on a kick defusal and falling over the line, before Grant Anderson finished athletically in the corner. 


Katoa was at the heart of the action again minutes later after he streamed through a gap and linked with a supporting Nick Meaney. 


Melbourne Storm NRL rugby league
After going down early, the Melbourne Storm responded with seven tries; PHOTO: NRL

A miraculous goal-line intervention from Trent Loiero and Sua Faalogo denied the Warriors first points after the break, as they held up a rampaging Marata Niukore, but there was no stopping Mitchell Barnett a couple of minutes later. 


That try, however, would be the last of the celebrating the Warriors did for a while, with Montoya's sin-binning for a professional foul coinciding with Faalogo's try to stretch the lead, before he was joined in the bin by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak after he was pinged for a dangerous tackle. 


By the time Xavier Coates got over for Melbourne's sixth with 17 minutes to play, the energy had well and truly been zapped from the capacity crowd of 24,495 at Go Media Stadium.


Montoya grabbed his double with five minutes to play, but it was too little too late to prevent the Warriors suffering their first defeat in a month, with Faalogo carving the hosts open for a four-pointer that put the icing on the cake. 



The Warriors have now lost 16 straight matches to the Storm, dating back to 2015.


"Physically, I thought we were outstanding and I thought we looked so strong and dominant but every error had an unbelievably negative result from it," said Warriors head coach Andrew Webster.


"You can go through a game and make errors and sometimes they might hurt you. Tonight, anything negative wasn't little, it was massive. They took advantage of that. All the stats, we won them, except the scoreboard."


The Warriors now head across the Tasman to take on the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday (kick-off 5pm), while the Storm play the Dolphins at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.


Melbourne Storm 38 (Eliesa Katoa, Grant Anderson, Dean Ieremia, Nick Meaney, Sualauvi Faalogo 2, Xavier Coates tries; Nick Meaney 5 goals) NZ Warriors 24 (Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya 2, Mitchell Barnett tries; Adam Pompey 3 goals, Chanel Harris-Tavita goal). HT: 20-14

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