The Storm had just blown away the battered Broncos to the tune of 40-10, but mastecoach Craig Bellamy went immediately to work to shower down his sides chances and claim his boys were the underdogs.
The Melbourne Storm are playing almost perfect football and will be raging hot favourites going into the Grand Final. The Storm have made their 4th consecutive GF and will be keen to win this one to achieve a 50 percent winning record. If they lose this game, only a single win from four starts would give them the chokers tag for sure.
For Brisbane, their poor start set the tone. Dropped balls consistently had them on the back foot and their attack was always struggling without the likes of Peter Wallace to guide them around the park.
Inglis was back to his best, getting 4 touchdowns. Slater too was untouchable, however his claimed try that was rejected – was the right decision. If you look closely, Slater promotes the ball to the line after he was tackled – and referee Jarred Maxwell was 100 percent right with his call.
Hayne and Keating have been cleared for the Eels and will start, giving Bellamy more ammo as he tries hard to push the underdog status.
“We’re under the radar and I expect Parramatta will be favourites.” claimed Bellamy
A laughable statement really, Bellamy knows how much pressure his side will be under and is doing everything to keep them grounded.
For Inglis, the troubled superstar seems to have really been served well by the time off. He looks fresh, focused and fit. And will give the Eels nightmares if he continues this current run of form.
It was a triple treat for the NRL star – one with a classy dive inside the corner post to slam the ball down and score and another length of the field try off an intercept – but it was his heavy hitting defence in the first period that really set the tone for his side.
Inglis pulling off a bone shattering hit on in-form Brisbane prop Nick Kenny.
“He’s been really going great since he had that couple-of-week break or whatever,” said Bellamy.
“He was tremendous and he’s just such a talented player as well as being a team player. One thing that really turned the game was the hit on Nick Kenny. That was a great hit on a front-rower by a centre. If that doesn’t lift a team then I don’t know what was going to.”
Inglis spoke of his experience after the game, confirm he ‘feels’ like a senior player now and really wants to set the tone for the new crop of the Storm players coming through.
Brett Finch, who has a minor ankle complaint has been doing his best to avoid the talk of facing Parramatta for the first time since leaving when he wasn’t in coach Daniel Anderson’s plans. “I’m looking forward to it, I’m just happy to be there, I’m happy to play anyone,” Finch said.
The Broncos probably made a poor call in running with Tonie Carroll at no.7 with Wallace out. Coach Ivan Henjack should have followed the directions of Gus Gould and inserted a younger ‘specialist’ half in place of Wallace. Lockyer would always take the lead and the youngster could have slotted in nicely under his guidance.
Alex Glenn eventually came into the halfback roll, but only midway through the first half and with his side losing confidence fast, it was too little too late.
It showed just how critical Peter Wallace now is to this Broncos outfit. The Penrith discard is a matchwinner and the side needed his cool services badly last night.
The Storm got on the board after only 3 minutes – rookie Jharal Yow Yeh dropping a kick and the Storm replied hard – with Will Chambers making him pay, slicing through a massive hole in the defence. It was a shockwave sent early and the Brisbane side never really recovered.
By the 10th minute mark the Storm were attacking hard, Slater claimed a try but was ordered to play the ball by Jared Maxwell. Replays indicated he planted the ball on the line, but he looked to have promoted it after the tackle momentum had stopped.
“I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t go and have a look there,” said Bellamy. ”At the end of the day it doesn’t matter but if it did, I’d be blowing up.
“Billy asked for them to have a look at it and I don’t think he’d have asked if he didn’t think it was a try.”
The incident interrupted the home team’s momentum momentarily. But Slater chipped ahead and regathered to touch down at 20 minutes and lock Dallas Johnson got a benefit of the doubt call at 26 after Inglis monstered Kenny.
MELBOURNE 40 (G Inglis 3 B Slater 2 W Chambers D Johnson tries C Smith 6 goals) bt BRISBANE 10 (I Folau A Glenn tries C Parker goal) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Jared Maxwell. Crowd: 27,687.