Official Match Report
Leeds Rhinos fell to a 38-4 defeat at the hands of NRL champions Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge at AAMI Park.
The Betfred Super League champions took a 10th-minute lead when a great cut-out pass by Stevie Ward found Ryan Hall to dive in the corner, but captain Kallum Watkins could not convert.
Forward Jesse Bromwich levelled proceedings after he crashed over from close range before Melbourne moved in front for the first time through a Brodie Croft try, which Cameron Smith converted, to go 10-4 up after 25 minutes.
A Smith penalty extended their advantage before Suliasi Vunivalu showed his class with a mazy run to cross and Nelson Asofa-Solomona powered his way over the line either side of the half-time interval to increase the hosts’ lead to 24-4.
Felise Kaufusi sliced through the Leeds defence for Melbourne’s fifth try before Will Chambers pounced on a loose ball to dot down with nine minutes left, with Smith failing to convert both attempts.
Dale Finucane crossed the whitewash in the final play of the match to complete the scoring for Storm as Smith booted eight points to earn a record-equalling fourth World Club Challenge crown for the Australian outfit.
Despite defeat, Leeds head coach Brian McDermott remained upbeat about his side's display and believes they would be able to hold their own in the NRL.
“I’d like to say that, given 10 games like that, by game eight or nine or game 10, I reckon we’d be up to that level,” he told the post-match press conference.
“So we’ll learn some massive lessons from that. But unfortunately it will be another couple of games before we’re in a game as intense as that and in one played at that level.
Incredible support 💛💙👏 pic.twitter.com/HAxkk6ND2m— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 16, 2018
“In the first half, while I never thought we had a grip on game, I never thought lost it completely either. It was a decent contest.
“It was always a challenge to come here and try to throw something at Melbourne which would trouble them. Five drives and a kick wouldn’t have, so we had to try something different.
“I thought Melbourne’s defence was outstanding, it was suffocating, and the more game went on the better they got, they really warmed up to it.
“We came up with challenging plays and tried to get some second phase going but they were just smothering, it was awesome defence.”
|9||try||Try scored for Leeds by Ryan Hall||0-4|
|17||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Jesse Bromwich||4-4|
|24||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Brodie Croft||8-4|
|25||goal||Goal scored for Melbourne by Cameron Smith||10-4|
|36||goal||Goal scored for Melbourne by Cameron Smith||12-4|
|40||goal||Goal scored for Melbourne by Cameron Smith||14-4|
|40||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Suliasi Vunivalu||18-4|
|49||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Nelson Asofa-Solomona||22-4|
|50||goal||Goal scored for Melbourne by Cameron Smith||24-4|
|57||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Felise Kaufusi||28-4|
|71||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Will Chambers||32-4|
|80||goal||Goal scored for Melbourne by Cameron Munster||34-4|
|80||try||Try scored for Melbourne by Dale Finucane||38-4|