Rugby League

Air Coates snatches Storm victory to extend Warriors hoodoo

March 16, 2024 9:32 pm

Coates with the try [Source: NRL]

A stunning last gasp Xavier Coates try snatched an unlikely win for Melbourne and continued a 10-year hoodoo against the Storm for a shell-shocked Warriors outfit.

The Storm scored two tries in the final three minutes to overcome an eight point deficit, with an airborne Coates securing the victory with a spectacular put down after diving over the top of wing opposite Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen scored in the 78th minute to give the Storm a chance of snatching victory after the Warriors had piled on three unanswered second half tries to take a 26-18 lead.

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Until Coates’ spectacular finish on the last play of the game, it appeared returning hero Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had inspired the Warriors to their first win in Melbourne since 2014 in just his second match back following two seasons in rugby union.

The Storm have now beaten the Warriors in the past 15 encounters between the two clubs, who play for the Michael Moore Trophy in honour of the former Melbourne football manager who drowned after a match in Auckland in 2000.

The Storm enjoyed the perfect start when Papenhuyzen’s kick-off bounced into touch and the home team received a scrum feed 20 metres from the Warriors’ defensive line.

Rookie playmaker Jonah Pezet crossed on just the fourth tackle but the try was disallowed for an obstruction by Fiji captain Tui Kamikamica.

However, there were no doubts when former All Blacks 7s representative Will Warbrick leapt above Marcelo Montoya to latch onto a Jahrome Hughes kick and score in the Storm’s next set of possession.

The Warriors hit back in spectacular fashion when halfback Shaun Johnson fired a long ball to rookie fullback Taine Tuaupiki, who took advantage of the overlap to put Watene-Zelezniak over for his first try of the match in the 11th minute.

Hughes again turned creator for the Storm’s next try when he stepped and weaved his way through the defence on a long run – as he had done in the lead up to the first try – before sending centre Nick Meaney racing away to score.

Papenhuyzen, who Meaney had deputised for at fullback last season, scored just his second try since June 30, 2022 when he sliced through the defence in the 22nd minute to extend Melbourne’s lead to 18-6.

Hughes then came up with a try saving tackle on Montoya in the 33rd minute – holding him up over the line – to ensure the Storm maintained their 12-point lead at halftime.

The Warriors needed to score first in the second half and they did, with Johnson firing a long pass to centre Rocco Berry, who tapped the ball on to Watene-Zelezniak for a stunning 45th minute try.

Tuivasa-Sheck, the 2018 Dally M Medallist and 2019 Golden Boot winner, then served a reminder of his brilliance after two years in rugby union when he soared for a Johnson kick and passed to Jackson Ford to score.

A Luke Metcalf penalty goal levelled the scores at 16-all and the talented playmaker helped put the Warriors ahead midway through the second half when he fired a cut-out pass for Montoya to score after Xavier Coates had fumbled a Johnson kick.

Back-to-back Metcalf penalty goals put the Warriors ahead 26-18 but the Storm stunned them with two late tries to Papenhuyzen and Coates.