Their start to the year has not been the best by any means but despite all that, the Melbourne Storm seem to be enjoying a resurgence in the last couple of weeks as they recorded yet another win, this time against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Playing away from home, the Storm burst out of the blocks and had the Bunnies on the ropes for the entire first half, before they finished things off towards the back-end of the second half.
There was a period where the Bunnies looked as if they would get back into the contest and after some crafty play early in the second half, the points started to flow for the club.
It was not enough, though, as the Storm’s defence was resolute at times – thus frustrating the Bunnies – before a Cooper Cronk field goal sealed the victory for the Storm.
Although many believe that it was a try and thus it was rightfully given, there was an element of controversy regarding a try to Billy Slater for an apparent obstruction.
As for Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who calls it like he sees it, he labelled last night’s game as the best performance by his side all season.
“[Our defence was] something we’ve needed to work on from the very first game. When we get into those situations where a penalty goes against http://www.billhobbs.com/ us or a call goes against us, we needed to toughen up. And we’ve done that in the last couple of weeks,” said captain Cameron Smith.
“Early in the year, a team would get a penalty, get down our end and score points whereas tonight they threatened our line a fair amount of time and we turned them away.
“You need to be able to do that in this competition. You need to be strong in your own end and turn teams away, have a good set and kick long. That’s how you break teams, and I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”
With a huge Origin period coming up for the Storm, the win moves them back into the top 8 and with a bye next week, the win puts the Storm in good stead to remain in the top eight come Origin.
“Given our position on the table this year â€“ I think we were sitting eighth or around that mark leading into tonight â€“ it’s great to get the two points, particularly against South Sydney,” Smith said.
“And then we have a bye next week, so that’s a huge win for us, really. So now it comes into the busy part of the year for us â€“ well for everyone in the competition. We just need to keep performing like we did tonight and keep the attitude towards defence in the last couple of weeks.”
As for the Bunnies, coach Michael Maguire was quick to point out the primary difference between the two sides – the kicking game.
“[When] you’re comparing the Cronk kicking game – talking to Sutto there, we spoke about the precision of certain areas of our game – they were better than us.”
The Storm were all over the Bunnies when it mattered and their precision all-round kicking is what kept the Bunnies on the back foot.
“When you’re in a battle like that, when you know it’s going to be a tough game, it’s all about pressure,” Maguire said.
“They were able to get back to back sets. And obviously those cross bombs, they land on the spot whereas ours didn’t at times. We didn’t give ourselves the chance to do what they were doing to us but when we did, and we hung onto the ball, we obviously made some metres down through the park and come up with a couple of tries there.”
3. Will Chambers
2. Billy Slater
1. Jesse Bromwich