Melbourne Storm won a thriller today at AAMI Park when their young stand-off half Brodie Croft, playing only his second first-grade game, landed the winning field-goal in golden-point time to secure a 23-22 victory against North Queensland Cowboys.
The game began with nine players were missing from the two sides because of State of Origin duty next week.
Melbourne made several changes to their matchday squad announced earlier in the week, with Croft starting at stand-off, Cameron Munster moving to fullback, Young Tonumaipea to the centres and Tohu Harris back to the second row. Kenny Bromwich dropped back to the bench, while Joe Stimson dropped out of the side.
The Cowboys took an early 8-0 lead with a penalty and a try by Kyle Feldt, which the winger also converted, before adding another penalty.
The Storm replied when Munster linked with Croft to put Curtis Scott through a gaping over the tryline nine minutes from the interval. Munster converted to reduce the gap to four points.
But that was extended early in the second half when Lachlan Coote touched down for the Cowboys, although the Storm then transformed the game with a blitz of three tries in seven minutes from Brandon Smith, Scott and Felise Kaufusi, with two goals from Munster making it 22-14.
The Cowboys made a late comeback, however, when Scottish international Kane Linnett touched down on 78 minutes with Feldt converting and then adding a last-minute penalty to take the game into golden-point time.
But then up stepped former Junior Kangaroo captain Croft to secure the victory for Melbourne and earn the acclaim of the AAMI Park crowd.
Storm: 6 Cameron Munster, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Curtis Scott, 1 Young Tonumaipea, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 19 Brodie Croft, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Slade Griffin, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 4 Tohu Harris, 13 Dale Finucane; Interchange: 12 Kenneath Bromwich, 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Mark Nicholls, 17 Dean Britt.
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Javid Bowen, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Kyle Laybutt, 7 Ray Thompson, 8 John Asiata, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton (c), 11 Kane Linnett, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Shaun Fensom, 16 Ben Spina, 17 Corey Jensen.
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches can be found in Monday’s issue of League Express