Rugby League

Warbrick wills Storm past Dolphins in thriller

June 22, 2024 7:24 am

[Source: NRL]

An inspired injury return from Will Warbrick helped lift the Storm to a 30-24 win over the Dolphins in a high-scoring affair on Friday night, which marked a third-straight win for the competition leaders.

In a fitting end to a contest which always sat in the balance, it took a brilliant late try-saving tackle from Ryan Papenhuyzen and Sua Faalogo to deny a Trai Fuller effort which likely would have sent the game to golden point.

Earlier the first half delivered 40 minutes of top-flight entertainment, with six tries scored in a perfect rotating pattern which meant no side led by more than six at any point.

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For their part the Dolphins fought on bravely, playing with 16 men for 73 minutes.

After a month out with a hip flexor injury, Warbrick was a key difference and devastated a makeshift Dolphins left edge, which was plunged into chaos when Jack Bostock suffered a game-ending head injury inside the opening three minutes while attempting to tackle Warbrick on a break.

The game also marked Papenhuyzen’s return from injury, with the Storm No.1 scoring his side’s opening try, while Dolphins forward Tevita Pangai jnr made his NRL comeback with a 35-minute stint off the interchange.

The Dolphins shook off the earlier blow of losing Bostock to score through Kenny Bromwich and Euan Aitken, with 20-year-old playmaker Isaiya Katoa the common thread in both efforts, first sending Bromwich over with a deft short pass before his towering bomb eventually found its way out to Aitken.

In between that the Storm struck a long-range blow down the left and finished through Papenhuyzen, before Warbrick broke free and put a monster fend on Herbie Farnworth to send Tyran Wishart over.

Fuller’s try off a scrum looked to have secured a half-time lead for the hosts, but Jahrome Hughes started and finished an adventurous move that evened things up again, with Jamayne Isaako missing a penalty on the siren that would have put the Dolphins back in front.

A leaping Warbrick claimed a Hughes kick for Melbourne’s fourth just three minutes into the second stanza, before Josh King streamed through a gaping hole, with a Nick Meaney penalty in between making the lead 12.

Isaako then dragged the Dolphins back into the contest with a 95-metre runaway in which he dodged a desperate late tackle from Papenhuyzen.

The Dolphins had plenty of chances to find more points in the final quarter – none more glaring than Connelly Lemuelu’s clean drop over the line with eight to play – but managed only a penalty goal through Isaako with minutes left, which set up a grandstand finish in which they ultimately couldn’t find the try they needed.

Meanwhile, Titans and Warriors will clash at 5pm, Roosters and Bulldogs meet at 7.30pm while Rabitohs will face the Sea Eagles at 9.35pm.