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Birthday boy Smith stars in Melbourne triumph

A starring performance from captain Cameron Smith has led Melbourne to a 26-22 victory over Manly at Brookvale Oval.
Birthday boy Smith stars in Melbourne triumph
by NRL

A starring performance from captain Cameron Smith has led Melbourne to a 26-22 victory over Manly at Brookvale Oval.

Celebrating his 29th birthday, Smith played in the unfamiliar position of halfback for a long period of the game, scoring a try and controlling the flow of the game perfectly.

The Sea Eagles came out firing in the opening set looking very dangerous, but against the run of play in the 8th minute Justin O'Neill stormed into a hole off a Cooper Cronk pass, setting up Todd Lowrie to open the scoring, and push them to a 6-0 lead.

After mounting plenty of pressure, the Storm struck again in the 15th minute through Smith, as he dummied and spun out of a tackle to cross under the posts, and extend their lead to 12-0.

The second Storm try lighted a fire in the Sea Eagles, who increased the intensity over the next 10 minutes, camping themselves on the Storm line. An error after six consecutive sets released the pressure, but the Storm gave them the ball straight back and they converted the pressure in the 28th minute.

Brett Stewart flew into a hole off a Kieran Foran pass to find Daly Cherry-Evans, who despite getting over the line had the ball knocked out by a Storm defender but still managed to plant it down. The try was awarded, and Manly were back in the game at 12-6.

They went back-to-back from a scrum, when Stewart won the chase to a ball Jamie Lyon kicked through in a set play, levelling the score to 12-12 in the 32nd minute. The momentum had completely changed in favour of the home side, and they grabbed another before the break when Jorge Taufua crossed, the beneficiary of some good work by Stewart again and Dean Whare to put them in the lead 18-12 at half time.

It wasn't all good news though, with lock Glenn Stewart being assisted from the field in the 37th minute with what looked to be a serious knee injury.

Who was your Man of the Match? Vote in the Provan Summons Award here.

The second half started as an arm wrestle, and it took until the 50th minute for the Storm to level the scores, when Bryan Norrie showed good hands to pick up a ball which had been kicked and rebounded twice to score, and make the score 18-18.

They jumped back into the lead in the 59th minute when Matt Duffie latched onto a Cronk cross-field kick above Taufua in the right hand corner, pushing the score to 24-18.

The game was almost turned on its head in the 68th minute, when Taufua got away down the left side before being brought down. But with the Storm on the back foot, Duffie took an intercept and ran 50m downfield before Jamie Buhrer made the covering tackle.

They received a penalty in the ensuing set, and Smith made no mistake from just to the left of the posts to extend their lead to 26-18 in the 71st minute.

A Duffie error in the 79th minute gave the Sea Eagles one last chance, and despite Dean Whare scoring in the corner in the 80th minute, the siren sounded and the Storm ran out 26-22 victors.

(Todd Lowrie, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Matt Duffie Tries; Smith 5/5 Goals)
(Daly Cherry-Evans, Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Dean Whare Tries; Jamie Lyon 3/4 Goals)
at Brookvale Oval

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