Xavier Coates.
A spectacular Xavier Coates last-minute try has earned Melbourne a thrilling win over the Warriors. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Miracle try from Storm’s Coates steals Warriors win

Melissa Woods March 16, 2024

Melbourne winger Xavier Coates has scored a miracle try with 25 seconds left on the clock to rob the Warriors of victory in a pulsating NRL clash at AAMI Park.

Coates took flight from almost five metres out and somehow managed to plant the ball from his position high above Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for Saturday night’s match-winner.

The try put the Storm back in front, with Nick Meaney converting for a final score of 30-26.

Melbourne scored twice in the final three minutes of the game – until then the Warriors looked certain to finally take down their bogey team after dominating the home side in the second half.

The victory extends the Storm’s winning run to 15 over the Warriors, who haven’t been successful against the men in purple since 2015.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said that while Coates trained for such acrobatic feats, he rated the match finish as something special.

“To come back with five minutes to go and score two tries and then that last try, it was pretty much out of the box for Xavier to even get over, it’s right up there,” Bellamy said.

“You feel for the Warriors – we probably had the best of them for 25 minutes but after that they dominated the game.

“I can’t remember a finish like that, it’s quite unbelievable.”

Melbourne led 18-6 at halftime but the visitors scored three second-half tries to take control of the match.

Melbourne Storm players celebrate a try.
 Storm players celebrate one of their five tries in a stunning clash with the Warriors in Melbourne. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Nothing appeared to be going the Storm’s way, with Ryan Papenhuyzen and skipper Harry Grant giving away four points with dumb penalties in front of the goal posts.

After being pinged for an illegal steal, Papenhuyzen made amends with his second try of the night in the 77th minute, with Meaney making it a two-point game.

Watene-Zelezniak scored a try in each half with halfback Shaun Johnson marshalling the Warriors’ backline in style.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, playing in the centres, was also a constant danger as he continued his transition back to the NRL after two years in rugby union.

Shaun Johnson
 Veteran Shaun Johnson pulled the strings in the Warriors backline. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

The first half was all Melbourne’s, as halfback Jahrome Hughes starred with two try assists, two line-breaks and six tackle busts.

Meaney’s galloping try came off a Hughes break but the No.7 was equally as important in defence, managing to stop a certain Marcelo Montoya try with a ball-and-all-tackle.

Bellamy said Hughes’s tackle was as important as Coates’ match-winner.

“It won’t get the wraps that Xavier’s will get but it was just as important – saving points is as good as scoring points,” Bellamy said.

Warriors coach Andrew Webster said the loss was “gut-wrenching”, with his team now winless from two rounds.

“It’s one of those ones, it hurts,” he said.

“Obviously there’s parts that are of me are so proud and then there’s parts where I just want the boys to realise if they do that for the 80 minutes we wouldn’t be in that situation at the end of the game.

“When you’ve got a winger who can jump over a skyscraper and then put the ball down in the corner, it’s pretty amazing but it’s hard to cheer them when you’re feeling this way.”