Wests Tigers prop Alex Twal finally made his mark on the NRL by scoring his first try, but the Melbourne Storm spoiled his celebration with a dominant 28-6 victory. Storm winger Will Warbrick stole the show, crossing the try line four times. With Cameron Munster and Harry Grant absent on State of Origin duty, it was Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes who stepped up and controlled the game with his composure in attack.
This match was a significant one for the Tigers, as it marked their first game since Luke Brooks turned down their contract offer. Unfortunately, their attack lacked direction, highlighting the urgent need for a solid halves pairing in the future. Without Brooks and hooker Api Koroisau, makeshift pairing Starford To’a and Brandon Wakeham struggled to convert their periods of dominance into points.
The loss was Wests Tigers‘ third in a row, which dropped them to the bottom of the ladder after showing promise in May. However, amidst the defeat, Alex Twal‘s try in his 116th first-grade game was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing performance.
Twal’s try came in the first half when Wakeham’s cross-field kick deflected off Melbourne hands and found its way to the ground. Twal, who had just come on from the bench, reached out and grounded the ball, ending one of the NRL‘s longest-running jokes. His teammates swarmed him, and referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski couldn’t help but smile as he awarded the try. The crowd erupted with cheers of “Twally” throughout Campbelltown Stadium.
Despite the boost from Twal’s try, the Storm remained patient and took a 14-6 lead into halftime, thanks to Jahrome Hughes and his accurate kicking. Hughes set up Warbrick’s second try with a well-placed bomb and then followed it up with a grubber kick for Tyran Wishart, who scored his first try in 22 NRL games. However, Wishart’s try didn’t receive the same level of enthusiasm from the crowd as Twal’s.
Warbrick’s other three tries were the result of slick ball movement from the Storm, who caught the Tigers‘ defense off guard. Melbourne could have won by a larger margin if Nick Meaney had found his kicking form, as he only converted two of his six attempts at goal.
In the second half, there was a moment of controversy when Melbourne’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona struck Tigers captain John Bateman with an open palm off the ball. Bateman had pushed Asofa-Solomona while he was trying to play the ball, leading to the altercation. Both incidents may come under scrutiny from the match review committee, with Asofa-Solomona and Tom Eisenhuth, who was placed on report for a crusher tackle on To’a, potentially facing charges.