The final score was perhaps not what many had expected but it was a sign that the Melbourne Storm are the team beat in 2013 early on, as they romped to a 32-10 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
It was the brilliance of halfback Cooper Cronk that got the Storm over the line, with the halfback scoring two tries and having a hand in several others, as the Storm proved too much for the Cowboys.
There is another concern for the Cowboys, with halfback Ray Thompson to undergo scans on an injured ankle, with the club hopeful it is only a sprain and nothing more serious.
Cowboys coach Neil Henry admits that his side was outplayed and taught a few lessons in the loss.
“It was a lesson in footy. A lesson in patience and scrambling defence,” he said.
“This was a real good gauge (of where we are).
“We had enough ball. It was about what we did with the ball we had.”
It was not only the attacking side of things that Cronk excelled in, with Storm coach Craig Bellamy praising the halfback for his sturdy defensive efforts.
“While he scored a couple of tries tonight he made key plays, including holding Kane Linnett up over the line after halftime,” Bellamy said.
In tough conditions, Bellamy also admitted that his side exceeded his expectations heading into the clash.
“To come up here and put that score on the Cowboys … I was really proud,” he said.
“The effort was tremendous.”
The win was soured, however, with Justin O’Neill suffering a potential broken jaw and Siosaia Vave placed on report for a crusher tackle.
3. Cooper Cronk
2. Ryan Hoffman
1. Matthew Scott