NRL Finals, Week 1 2007
Melbourne Storm 40 def Brisbane Broncos 0
By John Chelsea
It was a close to the best revenge the Melbourne Storm could impose on the Broncos, after the beaten by Brisbane in last years NRL Grand Final.
The Storm sent the Broncos packing as predicted, the home side again doing everything right and firing on all cylinders to beat the struggling Queenslanders. Its very hard to commend the Storm in just certain areas; everyone from their forwards to the halves and the backline just played near enough the perfect match – keeping with the NRL tradition of the Top ranked side eliminating Team 8 every year.
The signs were ominous for the Broncos early, their inexperienced pack misreading a Melbourne backline sweep play – with Anthony Quinn scoring untouched in the corner after 5 minutes. The Broncos minus Tony Carroll looked even more at sea, this week Sam Thaiday trying his hand at pivot. With Dane Carlaw lining up in the front row – it was a side that looked light on across the park.
The Storm began turning the ball inside from dummy half plays and had success for most of the first half. Quick play the balls followed by steam rolling forwards and then short second phase to the likes of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk was a recipe for disaster – Brisbane getting spanked severely and ending any hope of an armwrestle with the Storm.
Precision kicks from the Storm in seriously heavy wind was extremely impressive, Cronk finding good yardage and making a nice 40/20 play to continually heap pressure on the Broncos. The Storm possess such a complete game, the only chance of another side beating them is to continually look for stoppages in play. Kick for touch, even kick dead – thus allowing teams facing the Storm to set their defence line.
Even coach Craig Bellamy was in form; making the ideal substitution changes from the bench – injecting the right player at the right time and keeping the tempo upbeat despite having the game in their keeping from early on.
The Storm got through the game without any major injury worries, only Matt King getting a small neck bump, but running it out towards the end. The only worry for Melbourne now is a major injury scare in Week 3 or a flu like bug hitting the team in the weeks ahead – as certainly no competitor looks like stopping them.
The only other interesting point to come out of the game was the form of referee Steve ‘Terminator’ Clark. The normally pedantic whistle blower changing his game slightly and letting the play flow a little more. He did start blowing the pea out of the whistle late in the game, but it was a decent game from the much maligned referee.