Melbourne play themselves into form with demolition of Penrith

Cooper Cronk

If you thought the Storm would just shrivel up and lose pace as with the NRL’s top teams, you thought wrong – as they came blistering out of the gates to demolish the Penrith Panthers at AAMI Park.

It was some stern words from Craig Bellamy, as well as the axing of key centre Dane Nielsen, with captain Cameron Smith saying that the players heard Bellamy’s words loud and clear.

“Everyone was put on notice that your spot in the team’s not guaranteed when a player of Dane’s calibre is left out,” said Smith after the match.

“I think everyone’s eyes were opened right up when Craig made that decision.”

As you would expect, Bellamy was pleased with his side’s attacking efforts, but it was their defence that he wanted to praise.

“We had a bit of urgency and line-speed and that was the most pleasing thing for me,” he said.

“It was a wonderful first half; the second half we didn’t complete so well but I was happy that we defended a whole heap better and I think it’s something we can build on there.”

For the Panthers, who were chasing three straight wins for the first time since 2010, it was not their night – with coach Ivan Cleary marking this game as one that he would rather forget about.

“We were pretty bad, our defence in the first half was way off the pace,” Cleary said.

“In the second half I thought we created quite a lot of chances but for some poor finishing we would have scored a few more points.

“We were well beaten by a good team who obviously had a lot to prove and were very keyed up for a good performance.”

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