Melbourne Storm lost a favourite son to injury but scored a comeback win over Wests Tigers on Thursday night.
After watching potential Queensland forward Christian Welch go down with a serious knee injury just on half-time, the Storm battled back from an eight-point deficit to win 24-22 via a Will Chambers try two minutes from time.
Where there’s a will: Melbourne celebrate as Will Chambers scores the match-winning try against the Tigers.Credit:AAP
For much of the second half it looked like Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks would steer the Tigers to a memorable win at AAMI Park in front of 11,402, but the Storm pulled a late escape behind tries to Marion Seve and then Chambers, who played his 200th game last week.
But most painful for the Storm is the injury to Welch, who is a much-loved figure and was believed to be in line to come into the Queensland side for this year’s State of Origin series.
Welch, 24, is also out of contract next season and was in the sights of several sides. Instead he faces a second knee reconstruction after having one during the 2017 premiership season.
Flyin’ Ryan: Melbourne’s first tryscorer Ryan Papenhuyzen hits a gap.Credit:AAP
Luke Brooks stretched out to score the first try of the second half as the Storm looked flat after the break.
But Cameron Munster put up a high ball soon after and it fell into the hands of Felise Kaufusi right next to the right post allowing him to go over and cut the lead to 16-14.
The Tigers were controlling play and possession and Marshall pulled out a genius flat pass on to Esan Marsters on 55 minutes with the winger twisting and scoring to make it 22-14.
A try to Seve gave the Storm a chance at the win with eight minutes to play trailing 22-20, then with just minutes to play Kenny Bromwich broke a tackle down the Storm's left edge and drew in defenders before passing inside to Chambers who ran over to score.
It was unclear exactly how Welch hurt his knee. One replay appeared to show him grimace while running in support of a teammate just moments before half-time.
Welch is believed to have felt his knee go so he moved to the sideline and signalled to the Storm bench he was in trouble.
As the players walked to the sheds, teammates Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich walked back to Welch and offered to help him off. Instead, he hobbled off with them at his side.
It’s an injury the Storm couldn’t afford and neither could Welch.
The Storm play Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore next Sunday at 2pm.
MELBOURNE 24 (W Chambers F Kaufusi R Papenhuyzen M Seve tries C Smith 4 goals) WESTS TIGERS 22 (J Aloiai L Brooks E Marsters tries E Marsters 5 goals) at AAMI Park. Referees: Gavin Badger, Adam Gee. Crowd: 11,402.
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