In what is a stark contrast Â from last year, the Melbourne Storm have laid their claim as perhaps the NRL’s top team at the moment, as they beat the Penrith Panthers 25-10 at Centrebet Stadium yesterday afternoon.
What made the win even more special, is that just last year, in light of the Storm’s cap scandal, at this point in the season last year, it was the time when the Storm were caught out for breaching the cap.
“I wouldn’t like to call it an anniversary,” Storm fullback Billy Slater said when told of the significance of April 22.
“It’s not discussed with the boys mostly, but at the same time it’s not like ‘Gee, don’t talk about that’. It’s part of history and the club’s history.
“We all went through it, the people who were here. We’ve got our own individual experiences that we went through. It’s united the club.
“We’ve always had a strong culture. That hasn’t changed.”
As a result of that, Storm coach Craig Bellamy told his players that they had won their first away game in around 11 months, which equates to two weeks after the cap scandal broke, when they won in Canberra last year.
“We all learned something from that game, both the players on the field and the coaching staff as well,” Bellamy said.
“We’re still learning a bit about each other. I’m not only talking on the field, I’m talking about off the field. It’s a whole different squad to what we’ve had. Half the squad from last year is gone.”
Despite a spirited Penrith side, and a rampant Timana Tahu hell-bent on producing monster hits – he actually did pull one off on Storm prop Bryan Norrie, it worked to no avail, as the Storm held firm, and came away with the win.
“The hit that Tahu made … the game probably had a chance of turning there,” Storm captain Cameron Smith said.
“But the boys kept a level head and got through a couple of tough sets before Penrith came up with an error and we scored.”
Dally M Points
3 Cameron Smith
2 Gareth Widdop
1 Bryan Norrie