Jake Webster breaks clear for the Storm against the Bulldogs on June 23, 2006.

The night that sparked the perfect Storm

June 23, 2006 is a date that probably won't stir much emotion amongst rugby league fans. 

But try telling that to a diehard Melbourne Storm supporter.

It is a decade to the day since the Storm celebrated one of the great finishes to a regular-season NRL clash.

It was a wintry night down in the Victorian capital; the table-topping Storm set to take on the Canterbury Bulldogs in a Round 16 blockbuster showdown between two of the premier teams of the competition.

The Bulldogs had dominated the Storm in recent times, winning 11 of the previous 13 contests. Billy Slater was out suspended for the Storm while Greg Inglis was missing through injury. 

It was a dour first half; only a try to Sonny Bill Williams separated the sides at the break, before Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith sliced through early in the second stanza to send Antonio Kaufusi over for his second try of the year. 

The Bulldogs hit back through Trent Cutler and looked home when a Hazem El Masri penalty goal had them ahead by six with less than 10 minutes to go. 

That's when Jake Webster stepped up to the plate. Steve Turner (who was deputising at the back) came off injured late in the game and was replaced by Chris Walker, forcing Webster to the wing. 

Having been at fault for the Cutler try, Webster set about redeeming the situation, scoring off a Ryan Hoffman flick in the 74th minute after the back-rower had earlier been moved to centre. 

That made it 12-10, and after Smith missed the conversion the game looked dead and buried, especially when the score remained the same in the 80th minute. 

With time about to expire, the relatively inexperienced Cooper Cronk got the ball 10 metres short of halfway, and went for the Hail Mary play.

In the words of Channel Nine commentator Ray Warren, here's what happened next. 

"15 seconds to go. The kick from Cronk, gone over looking for Hoffman. Hoffman's got the ball, got it away to Webster. Webster will score. Webster has scored. Melbourne have won the game. Melbourne have won the game. 

"Please, this is not possible. I do not believe what I have seen in 2006."

That moment capped off a freakish stretch of Friday night fixtures that had seen Brett Stewart score off a Matt Orford banana kick in the 78th minute to steal a win in Round 14, before Brett Morris's 79th-minute try and Aaron Gorrell's sideline conversion sunk the Broncos the following week. 

Current South Sydney coach Michael Maguire was an assistant to Craig Bellamy in 2006 and still remembers the unbridled joy felt by the team on that frosty night at the 'Graveyard'. 

"I remember I was actually out on the field," he told NRL.com. 

"That team always thought they had an opportunity or a chance in any game, especially with the quality of players at their disposal.

"I remember the last play, Cooper Cronk ended up with the ball and was able to kick it across to Ryan who found Jake back inside to score. 

"I remember that quite well because it was an amazing game to be a part of, especially at the back end. I remember the more senior guys in that team got together and planned to do that play and sure enough it came off."

Former Storm winger Steve Turner was off the field at the time nursing a rib cartilage complaint but can still recall seeing Webster dive over in the corner of the Southern End of Olympic Park. 

"I was actually on the sidelines when it happened. I couldn't believe what had unfolded," Turner told NRL.com. 

"To be behind and win in those circumstances is exciting and probably one of the tries of the year that year. It's 10 years on, it's gone so quick.

"It was a tight tussle as it always is when you take on the Bulldogs. It was just one of those plays where we threw the kitchen sink at everything trying to come up with that magical play. 

"It just happened to be that Cooper's kick was pinpoint, Ryan was known for his right arm carry and offload and managed to get it inside to Jake to score. It was one of those plays that has stuck with me." 

Only two players from that night remain at the Storm, and unsurprisingly it's their star playmakers Cronk and Smith. 

The prized pairing led the Storm to four straight grand finals from 2006 to 2009 before crowning their incredible run with an emotional premiership in 2012. 

"Those two blokes have gone on to play over 500 games between them and they're still at the top of their game," Turner said. 

"It's a credit to both of them because they've been wonderful ambassadors to Queensland, Australia and the game down in Melbourne."

While Smith had already established himself as a star of the game – he would win the Dally M Medal that year – Cronk was only in his first full season as chief playmaker. 

"Cooper was still finding his feet at halfback that year. He came into grade playing a bit of utility because Matt Orford was there at the time," Turner said.

"If Orford stayed at the club then Cooper could have found himself playing for another club and who knows where he and the Storm would have ended up.

"Matt moved on to Manly and Cooper was given the opportunity to play at halfback. In his early days, Cooper did a lot of work with Matty Johns. He did a lot of one-on-one work with him for a number of seasons to define his role and establish himself as a top-level halfback. 

"He still does it now; he's very professional with his preparations and meticulous with how he goes about his football."

A decade later and the Storm find themselves in exactly the same situation as they were in 2006, with 11 wins and three losses leading into a Round 16 home game.  

It's hard to pinpoint a single moment as the catalyst behind a team's decade of dominance – Inglis's last-minute try against the Broncos in Week Two of the 2008 finals could be another – but Turner believes that fateful night down in Melbourne encapsulates everything there is to know about the Storm.  

"They're a club that continues to deliver and deliver on a consistent level. It's no fluke that they've bene so successful for a decade," he said. 

"It's a real trait of Craig Bellamy's and the Melbourne Storm. Ten years on and it's still the norm down there. Just look what they're doing in 2016. 

"Their culture is about never giving up, playing the moment and playing until the final whistle, so I guess that try really epitomised everything that they're about. 

"That moment defines the Storm."