Croft steps up to the mark and nails it

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - TRAVIS MEYN

COOPER Cronk’s clone stepped up to break North Queens­land’s hearts as Mel­bourne es­caped in a gold­en­point thriller last night.

In his sec­ond NRL game, Storm teenager Brodie Croft slot­ted an extra-time field goal to ice a stun­ning vic­tory for the lead­ers.

With nine Queens­land Ori­gin players miss­ing be­tween the sides, the in­gre­di­ents were there for a dour con­test be­tween the NRL heavy­weights at AAMI Park. But the qual­ity of both clubs shone through. There didn’t de­serve to be a loser and that’s nearly how it panned out.

A boilover was on the cards when North Queens­land bolted out to a 10-0 lead, but the Cow­boys dozed off mid­way through the sec­ond half as the Storm ran in three quick tries.

A con­tro­ver­sial penalty al­lowed Cow­boys winger Kyle Feldt to slot a goal af­ter the siren and send the game into extra time.

Cow­boys full­back Lach­lan Coote shanked a field goal op­por­tu­nity, al­low­ing Mel­bourne to march up the field, and that was where Croft stepped up.

First, he pro­duced a pin- point kick that landed just cen­time­tres short of the dead­ball line to give Mel­bourne a re­peat set. He then drilled the 30-me­tre field goal to send the crowd wild. With Cronk to exit at the end of the sea­son, and pos­si­bly re­tire, the Storm are on the hunt for a new No.7 and Croft has shown he can be that man de­spite his ten­der age.

“His field goal never looked like miss­ing,” Storm coach Craig Bel­lamy said. “The kid did a lot of prac­tice on that dur­ing the week.”

Cow­boys coach Paul Green thought his team’s de­fence let them down in patches, which proved de­ci­sive.

MEL­BOURNE 23 (C Scott 2 F Kau­fusi B Smith tries C Mun­ster 3 goals B Croft field

goal) bt NORTH QUEENS­LAND 22 (L Coote K Feldt K Lin­nett tries K Feldt 5 goals) in extra time at AAMI Park. Ref­eree: Ben Cum­mins, Adam Gee. Crowd: 17,124

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