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Junior Representative Wrap - Rounds 21& 22


ROUND 21 VS DRAGONS


Melbourne Storm’s Jersey Flegg side’s run of wins on the road has come to an end, going down 26-18 to the St George Illawarra Dragons at Ziems Park on Saturday.


While Storm started brightly with three tries inside the opening 20 minutes, a flurry of tries in quick succession before the break would ultimately swing momentum in the home side’s favour for the remainder of the contest.


Storm jumped out of the blocks in the first half, quickly finding space off the back of a scrum 10m out from the Dragons line, putting it through the hands and Siulagi Pio scoring in the corner in the 12th minute.


An error from Dragons centre Campbell Watchirs off a Stanley Huen crossfield kick would gift Storm its next points, the ball spilling straight into the path of Mitchell Jennings who shrugged away two Dragons defenders to score in the 16th minute.

Pio then nabbed his second try of the afternoon after some neat work from Ali Okusitino, with the Storm centre outleaping Dragons fullback Benjamin Rumble for the ball before offloading to Pio who strolled over untouched in the 19th minute.

Despite scoring three tries inside the opening 20 minutes, momentum would completely swing the way of the hosts for the remainder of the first half, the Dragons scoring three tries inside six minutes to leave scores all tied up at the break.


The try scoring spree kicked off with second rower Harry Rudd slicing through Storm’s right edge defence in the 24th minute before the Dragons went the length of the field from the kick off and Benjamin Rumble raced away to score.


Once again the Dragons would poke their nose through some flimsy Storm edge defence off the kick off, almost going coast to coast only for some desperation defence chopping them down 20 metres out from the Storm line.


It would provide very little respite however, Dragons once again putting it through the hands from the ensuing set and Te Umuariki Heremia-Tukere scoring in the left-hand corner in the 30th minute.


Unfortunately, the second half started much like how it ended for the visitors, Kyan Hjaltason splitting the markers and piercing through the Storm defence before linking up with Rumble who grabbed his second try for the afternoon.


The game then became quite the arm wrestle, neither side able to stamp their authority on the contest for the next 20 minutes.


Inside the final 10 minutes of play and trailing by 8 points, it would be Storm’s left edge combination of Okusitino and Pio that would rocket them back into the contest.


Setting up camp attacking the Dragons line, Storm shifted it left and Okusitino did well to attract the attention of two Dragons defenders before offloading to an unmarked Pio who completed the hattrick.


With the game suddenly back in the balance with 7 minute to go, Storm pushed hard for a late winner but would ultimately fall short with Declan Purcell icing the game for the Dragons in the 69th minute.


Storm will look to bounce back when they face the Parramatta Eels at Seabrook Reserve next Saturday.


ROUND 22 VS EELS


A strong second half performance from the Parramatta Eels has handed Melbourne Storm defeat in Round 22 of the Jersey Flegg competition, going down 26-18 at Seabrook Reserve.


With the Melbourne Storm Old Boys in attendance, Storm battled away hard for a majority of the contest but ultimately fell short to a physical Eels side that muscled up in the gusty conditions.


It was a less than ideal start for Storm, an error off the kick-off inviting the Eels into dangerous field position and the visitors quickly making them pay with winger Matthew Komolafe scoring before the clock even ticked over the one-minute mark.


Needing a response, Storm showed some desperation on their goal line, repelling numerous waves of Eels attacks before Siulagi Pio scooped up a wayward pass and raced 50m downfield to suddenly put Storm on the front foot.


Storm would waste little time in capitalising on the newfound field position, Keagan Russell-Smith putting Angus Hinchey through a hole and the nifty second-rower showing some great footwork to breeze past the fullback and score under the posts in the 6th minute.


Storm’s lead would be short-lived however, ball control once again proving costly with an error from the ensuing gifting Eels their second try, Blaize Talagi firing a sublime cutout pass for Komolafe who dived over in the corner for his second try in the 9th minute.


Despite having the breeze at their backs the Storm would be unable to find a response on the scoreboard for the remainder of the first half, the gusty conditions making it tough for both sides to control the footy.


It was a hard fought start to the second half, both sides exchanging set for set with neither side giving an inch as they muscled up through the middle of the field.

The deadlock would eventually be broken in the 49th minute with Saxon Pryke capatalising on a quick play the ball and crashing over from close range.


Once again it would be an error coming out of trouble that would hurt Storm on the scoreboard, Ali Okusitino punished for an error off the kick return as Max Tupou weaved his way through to score from a set play on the ensuing set in the 57th minute.


The Eels would extend their lead a few minutes later with Ethyn Martin scoring in the corner after finding space down the right edge of the Storm defence in the 61st minute.


Despite impressing for patches of the contest, Storm ultimately left themselves too much work to do in the final 10 minutes, with two late consolation tries not enough to lift them to a last-gasp comeback.


Two individual efforts from Poasi Manu and Gabriel Satrick would provide some late joy for the home side but it would ultimately be purely academic, with the Eels running out 26-18 winners.


The squad will now enjoy a bye in Round 23 before gearing up for their final away trip of the regular season where they will face the Wests Tigers in Round 24.

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