Tevita Pangai Junior (r) created fireworks in his NRL return but Melbourne edged out his Dolphins. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Storm hang on to pip Dolphins, Pangai on report

Joel Gould June 21, 2024

Melbourne half Jahrome Hughes was the difference in a 30-24 win over the gallant Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium where Tevita Pangai Junior’s return to the NRL produced fireworks.

Pangai was put on report for a late shot on prop Christian Welch, which should lead to a fine, and was involved in a fiery scuffle after a monster hit on lock Trent Loiero.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy has now won his past 12 NRL games head-to-head against Dolphins mentor Wayne Bennett.

Both sides shone with the ball on Friday and scored three tries each in the first half for an 18-all scoreline.

Hughes was sensational for the NRL competition leaders, starting and finishing a try just before the break with a crafty kick for winger Will Warbrick.

The Storm No.7 was at it again after the break with a pinpoint bomb for Warbrick to score, before putting Josh King over under the sticks.

 Will Warbrick celebrates after scoring for the Storm in a strong performance. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako than snaffled a Hughes cross-field kick to race 98m in an individual cracker to narrow the visitors’ lead to eight.

Isaako landed a penalty and went within a metre of scoring at the death, held out by desperate Storm defence.

“At the end of the night, we didn’t get beaten, we just ran out of time. Another five minutes, we probably win it,” Bennett said.

“Their effort is outstanding.”

Hughes, the acting Storm skipper, said he thought he did “some dumb things”. Bellamy grinned and agreed, before praising his half.

“He’s always a little bit hard on himself and I don’t mind that but I reckon he’s had his best year in the NRL so far,” Bellamy said.

“He has been a real leader for us this year.”

The Dolphins had a worrying start to the match when winger Jack Bostock landed heavily on his head while tackling opposite number Warbrick. The 20-year-old, who didn’t move for 20 seconds, was ruled out of the match with concussion.

The Dolphins, after rearranging their left edge, stayed composed and half Isaiya Katoa put prop Kenny Bromwich over against his old club.

Ryan Papenhuyzen, back after a five-week absence with an ankle injury, finished off a 70m raid to return serve in style for Melbourne.

Magic hands by the Dolphins trio of Herbie Farnworth, Kenny Bromwich and Ray Stone after a Katoa bomb led to Euan Aitken scoring in the corner.

The Storm had success down the Dolphins’ patchwork left side with another long-range try, this time to No.6 Tyran Wishart.

Dolphins fullback Trai Fuller, who was magnificent, dazzled his way over in what was a tit-for-tat extravaganza.

Pangai Jnr came on in the 26th minute for his first NRL game in 10 months and made an impact with his offloads and strong carries, despite being put on report

Loiero was put on report for a crusher tackle on Farnworth.

The Dolphins, who went into the match in fourth position, fought hard after losing Bostock and showed once again they are a force to be reckoned with in the NRL title race.