Published: Saturday February 23, 2013 MYT 8:42:00 AM
RugbyL: Harris marks debut with winning Melbourne try
LEEDS, United Kingdom: Debutant Tohu Harris marked his first start in a Melbourne shirt with the decisive try as the NRL side claimed their third World Club Challenge title at the expense of Leeds, prevailing 18-14 at Headingley.
Harris, a 21-year-old who was recruited from Wellington three years ago, went over just after the restart for the Storm who also had full-back Billy Slater and Jesse Bromwich on the scoresheet.
Hooker Cameron Smith also kicked six points for the visitors who repeated their triumph at Elland Road in 2010 - also against the Rhinos.
The reigning Super League champions, who were hunting a record fourth title, saw Ryan Hall and Jamie Jones-Buchanan cross the whitewash but in the end fell short in front of their own fans.
Melbourne started the brighter and were camped in Leeds territory for the majority of the opening 10 minutes.
However a break from deep almost paid off for Leeds but Danny McGuire's pass was deemed forward.
Smith then edged the Storm in front on 12 minutes, his goal coming after Kallum Watkins had spilled a high ball and Stevie Ward was caught offside.
Another break from Leeds almost brought the game's first try, but just as Joel Moon was stumbling towards the line in the left corner Slater came from nowhere to slam him into touch.
And that missed opportunity was to prove crucial on 20 minutes when Ryan Hoffman, a World Club Challenge runner-up with Wigan Warriors in 2011, offloaded to Slater who ran in unopposed under the posts - his 140th try for the Storm.
Smith's simple conversion gave the visitors an 8-0 advantage as the Headingley crowd, buoyant for the opening quarter, quietened.
But a period of concerted pressure from the Rhinos brought them back to life, and Hall, man of the match last year against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, crashed over in the corner on 28 minutes with Kevin Sinfield's conversion bringing the hosts back within two points.
And almost immediately it could have got better for Rhinos, Watkins broke through two tackles and found the onrushing Rob Burrow, but the England hooker fumbled when a try seemed a certainty.
But they went in level at the break in any case - Sinfield slotting a 30-yard penalty goal to make it 8-8 with the last act of the half. In the space of three blistering minutes after the restart Melbourne turned the screw.
New Zealand international Bromwich ploughed his way through the tackles of Paul McShane, Ward and Watkins and touched down under the posts - Smith gobbling up the two points.
Then Harris was the grateful recipient of a brilliant offload from Sisa Waqa to go over in the corner to open up a ten-point advantage with 46 minutes on the clock.
But back came Leeds, Hall was again at the centre of things and his pass found Jones-Buchanan to run clear from close range.
Sinfield notched his 39th successive kick to reduce their arrears to four points.
Jones-Buchanan then came close to levelling things on 74 minutes for Leeds, but the forward was denied a second try by a mob of Storm defenders on their back line, who in denying the hosts, secured a NRL record third World Club Challenge title. - AFP