Andrew Johns rips Melbourne Storm as Harry Grant cops backlash over bizarre Manly call

The Storm's shock loss to Manly came after a strange call from their skipper.

Melbourne captain Harry Grant has been called out by NRL fans over a bizarre call against Manly during Friday night's tense 26-20 defeat at 4 Pines Park. League 'Immortal' Andrew Johns was particularly scathing of the uncharacteristically sloppy Storm, who were made to pay for a litany of errors as the Sea Eagles held off a late charge to claim victory and snap their three-game losing streak.

Manly have given up leads of 12, 14, 16 and 20 already this season and it looked like that might be the case again at home against the Storm, despite dominating for most of the contest and leading 26-14 with 10 minutes left. But the Storm rallied with late tries to Nick Meaney and Tyran Wishart to make it 26-20 with five minutes left. Melbourne threw everything at the Sea Eagles and had repeat sets in the dying stages but the desperate defence of the home side held firm as Anthony Seibold's men inflicted just the third defeat on the Storm this season.

Harry Grant's decision take two points against Manly raised eyebrows after Andrew Johns was scathing towards the sloppy Storm in the NRL on Friday night. Pic: Nine/Getty
Harry Grant's decision take two points against Manly raised eyebrows after Andrew Johns was scathing towards the sloppy Storm in the NRL on Friday night. Pic: Nine/Getty

Melbourne's defeat came after a mountain of mistakes for Craig Bellamy's usually polished side, which made a whopping 11 errors and completed 47 percent of their sets - including just six of their first 12. "Our start to both halves was poor, especially to start the game," Bellamy said afterwards. "We went 25 minutes and we completed not even 50 per cent, so that put a lot of pressure. You can't start games like that and expect to win them at this level."

Rugby league 'Immortal' Johns called out a particularly diabolical passage of play for the visitors when Tui Kamikamica threw a pass to Christian Welch that was behind the veteran prop and above his shoulders, leaving the Storm coach seething in his box after the ball went to ground. "That's the basic fundamentals of catch and pass, the ball's gotta be in front," Johns said in commentary for Nine. "Not up to NRL standard."

Despite Melbourne's catalogue of errors, they still had a massive chance to become the latest team to chase down a Manly side that have been nervy front-runners. The Storm were on the charge when Meaney's second half try reduced the margin to six and Grant's scurry from dummy half almost put Jahrome Hughes over the tryline before the visitors were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts.

The Storm had the ascendancy and Manly were on the ropes at the time, with most fans expecting Grant to take a quick tap and go for the game-levelling try. But the Storm skipper left viewers scratching their heads after deciding to take the easy two points on offer, leaving them still four points down. A try to Tommy Talau soon extended Manly's lead to 10 points, making Grant's decision even harder to fathom.

Manly's win was all the more encouraging considering the absence of first and second choice fullbacks, Tom Trbojevic and Tolu Koula, with debutant Lehi Hopoate filling in with aplomb. It was Hopoate's clever flick-on that set up Talau's late try for Manly and the young fullback was safe at the back and sharp in attack for the Sea Eagles.


"After three losses, you don't really care what it looks like. You just want to get the win," captain Daly Cherry-Evans said. "We're all pretty aware of three weeks in a row losing close games. You're all aware of it. So when the 12-point lead goes to six, it was just leaning on the lessons we learnt in the previous weeks. That's what we did tonight."

Seen here, Lehi Hopoate making his NRL debut for Manly in the win against Melbourne.
Lehi Hopoate made an encouraging NRL debut for Manly in the win against Melbourne. Pic: Getty

Haumole Olakau'atu had some powerful runs early in his last audition for a NSW State of Origin debut, but was subsequently quiet on Manly's right edge. Taniela Paseka also made a last-gasp push for a Blues jersey, while Jake Trbojevic will almost certainly be there for NSW on June 5, with a crucial second half try the icing on the cake for the veteran Manly forward.

"We've been in every game. We've had five losses but I think it's all up by a combined 23 points," Manly coach Seibold said afterwards. "That's probably the frustrating thing for the players and coaching staff. I know we've got a really good footy team here, and I think we've shown that. Our challenge and opportunity is to do that for longer periods in games."

with AAP