Melbourne Storm 38 Leeds Rhinos 4: Leeds blown away by Storm

Melbourne Storm celebrate scoring in the World Club Challenge.
Melbourne Storm celebrate scoring in the World Club Challenge.
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Leeds Rhinos endured a painful night in Melbourne as they were blown away by a gale force Storm.

The NRL champions ran in seven tries in a dominant display, despite Leeds taking an early lead.

Rhinos were outclassed 38-4 and to rub salt into their wounds, they lost full-back Jack Walker (knee) and loose-forward Stevie Ward (calf) to injuries before the break and Joel Moon hobbled off in the final few minutes.

Very little went right for Leeds, but Storm showed a ruthless streak on attack and had too much in defence on the rare occasions Rhinos were able to pressure their line.

Leeds were competitive in the first half, but a try on the stroke of half-time effectively ended their hopes. The conversion made it 18-4, after the Betfred Super League champions had been 4-0 up.

Ward’s excellent pass crated the opening try for Ryan Hall, who continued his strong start to the season with an impressive finish at the corner, too far out for Kallum Watkins to convert.

Ryan Hall celebrates after scoring the opening try against Melbourne Storm.

Ryan Hall celebrates after scoring the opening try against Melbourne Storm.

Storm levelled on 16 minutes through Jesse Bromwich, who was too powerful close to the line from Brodie Croft’s offload.

Croft – taking over from Cooper Cronk who left Storm after their Grand Final win – nipped over on 24 minutes, the video referees deciding there was no double-movement – and Smith added a penalty on 34.

That was awarded against Brad Dwyer, who was ruled to have obstructed Billy Slater as Leeds defended a kick.

Just before the interval Slater managed to get out of Storm’s in-goal area and five tackles later Suliasi Vunivalu came off his wing and sliced past Joel Moon, Dwyer and Adam Cuthbertson to score between the posts and make Smith’s conversion a formality.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Cameron Munster contest for the ball.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Cameron Munster contest for the ball.

A very harsh penalty against Matt Parcell – for what looked an excellent tackle on Smith – led to Storm’s fourth try, scored by Nelson Asofa Solomona.

Smith converted and yet another penalty, for interference, was punished when Felise Kaufusi touched down to make it 28-4 with more than a quarter of the game remaining.

Ten minutes from time Will Chambers was awarded a touchdown by the video referees after Vunivalu and Hall had competed for the ball from a high kick by Croft and Dale Finucane’s try, goaled by Cameron Munster, completed the scoring in the final minute.

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