NRL: Melbourne Storm snatch victory over gallant NZ Warriors with miracle try in final seconds

Xavier Coates scores his miracle try for Melbourne Storm.
Xavier Coates scores his miracle try for Melbourne Storm. Photo credit: Sky Sport

Winger Xavier Coates has scored a miracle try in the final seconds to deprive NZ Warriors a comeback victory over Melbourne Storm across the Tasman.

Trailling 18-6 at halftime, the visitors roared back into the contest with a powerful second-half performance that carried them to a 26-18 lead with fulltime in sight. 

Two tries in the final three minutes - including Coates' incredible gravity-defying effort in the corner - broke Warriors hearts, as the Storm prevailed 30-26 for their 15th straight win over their Kiwi rivals.

"That one hurts," admitted star halfback Shaun Johnson. "We made it really hard on ourselves, but we showed a lot of fight.

"We spoke about believing at halftime and staying on process for 40 minutes, and being ruthless with it. We know what we can do when we do that, but we had a couple of brain snaps towards the backend and they're a side that will make you pay.

"It's a tough place to come and win - but so close."

The Storm were over from the opening kickoff, when five-eighth Jonah Pezet found a huge gap in the defence to score, but the try was disallowed for obstruction by prop Tui Kamikamica.

Next time down the field, they were not to be denied, when half Jahrome Hughes kicked high for winger Will Warbrick, who outleapt marker Marcelo Montoya to score in the corner.

The Warriors earned an attacking penalty, when Johnson was hit late, as he kicked on the last tackle. Fullback Taine Tuaupiki drew the last defender to put winger Dallin Watene-Zeleniak over.

Luke Metcalf's conversion levelled the scores and the Warriors seemed to have weathered the early assault. No such luck. 

From deep in their own territory, fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen offloaded to Hughes, who surged to halfway and linked with centre Nick Meaney to score. When Hughes was taken in midair kicking, the Storm had another prime scoring opportunity, which Meaney converted into two points.  

Montoya could not handle a pass from Metcalf in his own half and Melbourne were on the offensive again. Second-rower Joe Chan found Papenhuyzen with a short pass for their third try.

Now chasing the game, the Warriors forced an error from Pezet to gain field position. Shifting left, Montoya seemed to atone for his earlier errors, accepting a clever tip-pass from Metcalf to cross in the corner. Replays showed he grounded the ball short, before he was tackled into touch by Hughes, so no try.

Trailling 18-6 at halftime, the Warriors probably needed to score next and a surging run from centre Roger Tuivasa-Sheck put them in great position. From a penalty and set restart, Watene-Zelezniak had too much speed for Pezet for a patented finish in the corner. 

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scores a try against the Storm.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scores a try against the Storm. Photo credit: Photosport

The try temporarily cost them centre Rocco Berry, who was tackled hard, as he tipped on the final pass, with utility Dylan Walker asked to reprise his past in the midfield.

Re-energised, they scored again, when Tuivasa-Sheck recovered Johnson's high kick and offloaded to second-rower Jackson Ford, who was dragged down on the tryline. Replays showed he retained possession and forced on the chalk for a try.  

Metcalf's conversion reduced the deficit to two points.

The Warriors lost skipper Tohu Harris, after he took a heavy tackle and was dragged for a head check, but they were still on the frontfoot.

Prop Mitch Barnett tried to offload to Johnson on the tryline, but the Storm were penalised for offside and Metcalf slotted the close range penalty to draw level again.

When Storm wing Xavier Coates couldn't handle a Johnson kick, Berry - who had returned to the field - regathered and fast hands put Montoya over in the left corner for the lead. 

The Warriors put themselves under pressure, when Walker threw a pass behind Metcalf that was knocked on, but Storm forward Alec MacDonald let them off the hook, with an identical mistake.

Down the other end, Storm hooker Harry Grant was penalised for trying to milk a call by deliberately throwing a pass into the retreating Ford and Metcalf stretched the margin with another successful kick at goal. 

Next time down the field, Papenhuyzen conceded another penalty, when he lost possession and continued to contest the ball, after it had been awarded to the Warriors. Two more points from Metcalf put the Warriors beyond the converted try with eight minutes remaining.

Tuivasa-Sheck bobbled the ball in a tackle to give the Storm a sniff and was then tackled in goal at the other end of the field.  

Melbourne forced two dropouts, as they piled on the pressure and Papenhuyzen showed his speed to score his second try of the night. Meaney's conversion brought them back to two points with two minutes left.  

From the kickoff, the Storm entered Warriors territory and Pezet retreated behind the 40-metre mark to attempt a two-point field, but Barnett charged his kick down. With a fresh set of tackles, the Storm moved the ball left and Coates flew at the corner, knocked off balance by Watene-Zelezniak's attempted tackle, but somehow forcing the ball to break Warriors hearts.

"We came up short, but there's so much to take away from what we're doing," insisted Johnson. "We've got to hold onto it, we have to go to Christchurch next week and play in front of our people.

"That's what we spoke about, bottling what we did in that 40 minutes and taking it into next week."

With a short turnaround, they will seek their first win of the season against unbeaten Canberra Raiders on Friday.

Melbourne Storm 30 (Warbrick, Meaney, Papenhuyzen 2, Coates tries; Meaney 4 conversions & penalty) NZ Warriors 26 (Watene-Zelezniak 2, Ford, Montoya tries; Metcalf 2 conversions & 3 penalties)