Leeds Rhinos 10 Melbourne Storm 18: Aussies storm to World Club Challenge title

LEEDS RHINOS were unable to reclaim their title as the world's finest as Melbourne Storm gained revenge for their loss at Elland Road two years ago.

In another brutal and highly physical contest, similar to the epic which Leeds edged 11-4 in 2008, it was the Australian premiers who came home due to Keith Senior losing his temper on the hour mark.

After seeing his side continually slowed at the ruck due to Melbourne's famed "wrestle" technique, the former Great Britain centre finally allowed his frustrations to show on the hour mark and hurled some abuse at referee Richard Silverwood.

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Storm captain Cameron Smith – who had missed that last contest through injury – slotted the gift penalty to put his side in front for the first time and winger Anthony Quinn sealed defeat for the Super League champions with a try in the dying seconds.

It meant the Yorkshire club lost out for the second year running to Australian foes, Manly having won in Leeds 12 months ago, but – despite crucially losing captain Kevin Sinfield with a dead leg in the first half – they put all their early-season form problems behind them with a display rich in determination and spirit.

They did not want to give Melbourne, who have featured in the last four NRL Grand Finals, the merest sniff – illustrated when Sinfield started with an inch-perfect short kick-off.

The confident tactic nearly paid immediate dividends when Rob Burrow launched a kick to the corner which Ryan Hall palmed down to Brent Webb who – with just 50 seconds on the clock – seemed destined to score.

However, Storm winger Luke MacDougall remarkably somehow held the Kiwi up over the line with the sort of magnificent defensive effort which would become commonplace as the night progressed.

In pouring rain, Melbourne were given no time to settle, Leeds throwing themselves forward – quite literally – as Ian Kirke launched himself to charge down Brett Finch's kick and retrieve possession.

When the desperate Storm defence went offside trying to re-organise, Sinfield slotted the simple fourth-minute penalty.

After England captain Jamie Peacock – bidding for a record fifth World Club Challenge – went high on Aiden Tolman trying to impose his authority, Melbourne worked the position to earn another penalty and, as if accepting there was going to be few chances with two

such determined defences striving, Smith accepted the two points.

Burrow, Matt Diskin and Peacock teamed up to drive Billy Slater back 10 metres as he tried to run back one kick but the man who scored a hat-trick on his last appearance at Elland Road with the Kangaroos showed his attacking prowess with a quality pass that put Ryan Hoffman into space.

The powerful second-rower was hauled down by a great tackle from Brett Delaney, the Leeds centre who passed a fitness test just before kick-off to return from a knee injury.

His burly presence proved crucial in keeping another Australian Test star relatively quiet, the strapping Greg Inglis, before Leeds were again denied the opening try in the 13th minute.

A fantastic pass from McGuire saw Kallum Watkins – the 18-year-old featuring due to Scott Donald's injury – diving for the corner but Inglis and Slater applied just enough pressure to see the youngster fumble over the line.

Leeds were then pinned back as former Golden Boot winner Smith showed his kicking expertise, first with a raking effort which saw Webb held behind his own line and then a perfect sliding kick which saw McGuire forced into conceding a second drop out on the bounce.

They held firm again though forcing Adam Blair into a mistake and it was Peacock who rumbled closest with a typical robust surge only denied by a raft of desperate Storm tacklers.

Webb and Watkins bundled Ryan Hinchcliffe into touch after clever play from Hoffman and Inglis before Smith infuriated Leeds, launching a fierce high tackle on McGuire after he had coughed up possession.

With Sinfield now off, it was left to Burrow to put Leeds 4-2 up with a 32th-minute penalty after Smith and Inglis held down Jamie Jones-Buchanan, the Super League champions bemused as to why referee Silverwood did not also use his card after constant interference in the tackle from Storm.

He should have done when Melbourne replacement Hep Cahill cheaply upended Danny Buderus with a late and dangerous tackle, sparking a huge melee.

The game was tough enough already but it now upped to another level.

Buderus was harshly penalised for interference just before the break allowing Smith to bring his side back to 4-4 but Leeds swept back in front in the 47th minute.

McGuire raced 90 metres to score after Delaney stuck out a leg at Smith's kick and he picked up, showing fine pace to see off the chasing Quinn.

Video referee Phil Bentham ruled he was onside and Burrow curled in the conversion but Storm immediately hit back after some quick-thinking by Brett Finch.

The half-back, realising the Leeds defence was largely offside after he tapped a penalty, swiftly combined with Blair and Dane Nielson to expose them out wide, MacDougall finishing off and Smith's kick drawing the contest level again.

The Storm captain put them ahead when Senior blew his top and Hall then had to act swiftly to swat dead a Smith grubber.

Leeds would not yield though and McGuire put Watkins haring to the corner again only for Slater, typically, to nudge the teenager into the corner flag leaving Quinn to sneak in during the closing stages after pin-point passing from Finch and Inglis.