The Storm beat the Sharks 34-18 in arguably the game of the season, with both sides attending masterclasses from Cameron Munster and Siosifa Talakai.
In a frantic start, the Sharks lost skipper Dale Finucane to an early HIA and he was ruled out for the rest of the game.
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The Sharks drew first blood with a penalty goal to Nicho Hynes to make it 2-0.
The Storm hit back with a try from Justin Olam after a fine cut pass from Cameron Munster put Nick Meaney in space.
“It was a magic pass from Munster,” said Greg Alexander.
Sharks in-form center Siosifa Talakai completed a brilliant Hynes-inspired long-range try to take an 8-6 lead.
However, Munster produced a scintillating solo try to see the Storm regain the lead at 12-8, which they held until half-time.
The Storm started strongest in the second half as they got a scrum after kick-off that went into touch-down, before Olam netted a Jahrome Hughes pass from the scrum.
Talakai then set up a try for Ronaldo Mulitalo to bring the Sharks back into the game at 18-12.
However, Munster produced an almost identical copy of their previous try, only this time passing Papenhuyzen to score to make it 24-12.
The Sharks wouldn’t go down without a fight with Talakai setting up a second try for Mulitalo to make it 24-18 with 17 minutes left.
Harry Grant nearly killed the Sharks when he dived from close range to make it 30-18 with 14 minutes on the clock.
The Storm kicked off with two late penalty goals to put the game beyond doubt.
Here are the main takeaways from the game.
MUNSTER INCREASES THE ASKING PRICE IN MASTERCLASS
The Storm will have to increase their offer to Cameron Munster if he wants to protect the Dolphins, as he increases his value by the game.
Munster made the difference between the two sides in an epic contest with 121 yards running, five tackle saves, two line breaks, a line break assist, a try assist and a try in a performance that has came close to the perfect 10.
Munster set up the first try of the game with a brilliant pass to give the Storm an 8-6 lead, which Greg Alexander was impressed with.
“It was a magic pass from Munster,” said Alexander.
“He saw the center and the winger come off their line. Ramien realized too late that he didn’t have the size to touch the ball.
“The ball went straight to Nick Meaney, straight in the face of two Storm players. The two Sharks players arrived empty-handed.
Then, with the Storm trailing 8-6 in the first half, Munster took charge of putting his side back in front with a brilliant long-range solo try.
“Munster is putting on a show tonight,” said Dan Ginnane.
“He did it with his hands the first time around. He did it with his legs and his brains right there.
“It was a good little ad. Of course, his future remains undecided and it’s a very big step tonight. Not that he needs to prove himself. What a night it is.
Alexander praised Munster’s ability to turn the tide of a match by creating something out of nothing.
“With his team at 8-6, it’s a huge individual effort from Munster,” said Alexander.
“Every skill he has, he produced. The show on the inside. The ability to beat a tackle. The dummy. The deception of the cover defense.
“Everything was starring in that 30-meter run to the line.
“Everything in her backpack is presented by Cameron Munster. »
Corey Parker and Cooper Cronk believe Munster made the difference between the two sides in a close battle.
“Man of the moment Cameron Munster comes in with a peach of a pass down the left side before Justin Olam crashes into the corner,” Parker said.
“The Storm’s No. 6 had his fingerprints all over this game.”
“Munster just turned and dealt down the left side,” Cronk said.
“His trial was a great individual effort.”
The Sharks pulled close to the Storm again at 18-12 in the second half before Munster produced another dummy and left Ryan Papenhuyzen untouched except to seal the game.
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TALAKAI AND OLAM STAR IN EPIC CLOSURE OF THE CENTERS
There were plenty of eye-catching displays in the Storm’s clash with the Sharks in arguably the game of the season so far, but none more so than those from centers Justin Olam and Siosifa Talakai.
Olam proved why he is Dally M’s reigning center of the year with a masterful brace, while Talakai had his hands on almost everything the Sharks have done.
Olam had 118 yards running, seven tackles, one line break and two tries, while Talakai had 163 yards, six tackles, one line break, two assists, two assists and a try.
Talakai arguably completed the team try of the season, which came from deep within Sharks territory.
Nicho Hynes produced a cross kick deep in his own half and the ball went through several hand games before Talakai scored at the other end of the field.
“Cronulla’s sensational Talakai tryout,” Ginnane said.
“Across the board. The Stones took a huge risk near their own line and it paid off perfectly.
Corey Parker said Talakai has been the Sharks’ most consistent player all season.
“Talakai was one of their best players,” Parker said.
“He scores more in the left corner. By far the best football game of this season.
“It was an amazing game of football.”
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HYNES SHINES BACK IN THE STORM
He may have been on a beaten team, but Nicho Hynes was still one of the best players on the pitch when he returned to Melbourne for the first time since joining Cronulla.
Hynes had 23 yards of running, a tackle bust, a line break assist and three clutch conversions, but it was the things that didn’t show up in the stat sheet that showed his importance to the team. Sharks.
Benji Marshall believes Hynes invented the first-half game when he produced a kick inside his own territory for Jesse Ramien, who set up Talakai’s try at the other end of the game. ground.
“I love the Nicholas Hynes piece here,” Marshall said.
“He knows the Melbourne Storm system inside out. Compressed defense. They were pressing him and Nicho Hynes had the presence of mind to kick the outside player.
“At the end of the day, they scored from the back of this game.
“What a special player he is.”
Greg Alexander and Corey Parker praised Hynes for his vision.
“What a Nicho Hynes play,” said Alexander.
“I was just saying it would be a really tough set and there’s Hynes’ kick to Ramien.”
“A little Nicho Hynes heads-up,” Parker said.
“The returns serve against his former club. They descend this right side before falling on the left. Brilliant game.
The Storm got the chocolates, but the battle between Munster and Hynes was worth the price of admission alone.
“It’s the battle between the two superstars on either side Cameron Munster and Nicho Hynes,” Marshall said.
“They really turned up the heat.”
Nicho Hynes and Dale Finucane return to face their former club when the Melbourne Storm host the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park.
The Storm were rocked by Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny ruled out due to Covid, with Brandon Smith starting at prop and Alec MacDonald joining the bench.
Trent Loiero replaces Kenny Bromwich, while Tyran Wishart will make his third NRL appearance on the bench for the depleted Storm.
Chris Lewis is set to win his third game of the season off the bench.
Britain’s second rower Nikora is also absent due to Covid protocols with Cameron McInnes entering the back row.
Braydon Trindall is the new face on the Sharks bench.
The Storm will be looking to stay in touch with the top-ranked Panthers while the Sharks are ready to cement their place in the top four with their fifth straight win.
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