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Storm overpower Wests Tigers to close in on minor premiership

The Storm overcame the loss of prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona and hooker Bronson Garlick to down a spirited Wests Tigers 40-28 at Leichhardt Oval.

With Kiwis halfback Jahrome Hughes turning in another five-star performance, the Storm came from behind to overpower Wests Tigers and maintain their position at the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder as they close in on the minor premiership.

The Storm are four points clear of the second-placed Panthers and six points ahead of the third-placed Sharks, with a bye to come next weekend in Round 19. 

Hughes all smiles after first Leichhardt hit-up

However, the win proved costly for the Storm with Asofa-Solomona coming from the field midway through the first half with a hamstring injury and Garlick joining him soon after with a back problem.

Already without Kangaroos and Maroons hooker Harry Grant, Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy was forced to reshuffle his side, with Tyran Wishart taking over the dummy half duties and Sua Fa'alogo playing 43 minutes from the bench. 

Wests Tigers stunned the Storm to take an early lead after winger Charlie Staines finished a backline movement to score in the 11th minute.

Charlie Staines Try

The Storm hit back in the 15th minute after Elisia Katoa sliced through the defence off an inside ball from halfback Jahrome Hughes to cross untouched and level the scores at 6-6. 

However, Wests Tigers continued to test the Melbourne defence and prop Fonua Pole regained the lead for the home team just minutes later when he crashed over off an Api Koroisau pass from dummy half.

Fonua Pole Try

A piece of Ryan Papenhuzen magic again drew the scores level when the Balmain junior, who was playing his first NRL match at Leichhardt Oval, stepped his way through the defence in the 28th minute.

Winger Will Warbrick then put the Storm ahead for the first time when he scored two minutes later after a long, jinking run by Hughes and the visitors went to the halftime break leading 16-12.

As it has done so often this season, ill-discipline proved costly for Wests Tigers and the sinbinning of rookie winger Solomona Faataape for interfering with Warbrick as he tried to field a cross-field kick by Hughes saw the score blowout.

Hughes immediately took advantage of the superior numbers and in the ensuing set he combined with prop Josh King to create room for centre Grant Anderson to score.

Solomona Faataape is sent to the bin

A try by Storm super-sub Sua Fa'alogo just as Faataape was readying to return from his stint in the sinbin extended the lead to 26-16 but once the numbers were even again the Wests Tigers fought their way back into the game.

Boom five-eighth Lachlan Galvin crossed for the home side's third try in the 60th minute and momentum again shifted back in favour of Wests Tigers.

Lachlan Galvin Try

Fa'alogo had a second try disallowed after racing 70 metres in a spectacular effort but the Bunker detected a knock on by team-mate Alec MacDonald before the speedster picked up the loose ball.

Wests Tigers centre Adam Doueihi was also denied a try and Tyran Wishart - playing hooker after Garlick was forced from the field with a back injury - sealed the win when he scored from close range.

Sualauvi Faalogo Try

Staines scored his second try but it was too little too late for Wests Tigers and Fa'alogo iced the win with a stepping run to the tryline in the 75th minute.  

Match snapshot

  • Wests Tigers captain Api Koroisau was placed on report for dangerous contact on Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes after a kick late in the match.
  • The Storm have won their past seven games against Wests Tigers.
  • Wests Tigers prop David Klemmer was placed on report for a high tackle.
  • Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona suffered a hamstring injury and played just 20 minutes.
  • England second-rower John Bateman ran a game high 190 metres for Wests Tigers.
  • The Storm conceded their second worst defensive performance of the season, while it was the second consecutive match Wests Tigers have had 40 points scored against them.

Papenhuyzen puts his body on the line to stop a try

Play of the day

The scores were level at 12-12 when Jahrome Hughes made a long, jinking run in which he turned Wests Tigers defenders inside out, before sending winger Will Warbrick over to give the Storm a 16-12 halftime lead. 

Will Warbrick Try

What they said

Wests Tigers: Round 18

"It’s a bit of both (that performance), there was a lot to like and there was a lot not to like. One thing I will say is; to score 28 points against the team that's at the top of the table, given our attack’s probably struggled a little bit this year was good, but again, moments of frustration where we're probably letting the pressure off. But they're first in the comp for a reason, they don't beat themselves and they showed that again tonight. Against a pretty good outfit like that, yeah it was up there (our attack), and again, you try to take the positives away from that, but there is disappointment in the sheds because everyone knows that we had an opportunity to win the game tonight and we'll probably let it go a little bit." - Tigers coach Benji Marshall

NRL Press Conference: Wests Tigers v Storm - Round 18, 2024

"I was pretty happy with our attack and pretty disappointed with the points we let in but having said that we ended up with only one guy on the bench so there was a lot of moving around. They were really spirited in the way they played, they have got some really good players there with Api leading them around and some real good young blokes as well so I think they are going to be a real force to be reckoned with in a couple of years time," - Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

Storm: Round 18

What's next

Wests Tigers travel across Sydney to meet the Sharks on Friday night, while the Storm have a Round 19 bye before hosting the Roosters in Melbourne on July 20.

After being decimated by injuries and suspensions just a month ago, Wests Tigers are almost back to full strength with Isaiah Papali'i (foot), Starford To'a (hamstring), Junior Tupou (ankle), Alex Lobb and Alex Twal (both HIA) all due to return.


Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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