A record was broken after the St George Illawarra Dragons defeat to the Melbourne Storm but it was not one to remember. The Dragons have now lost seven straight games, the worst losing streak in the joint merger’s history.
It was a different story for the Storm, who are returning to form after their comfortable 22-4 win at McLean Park in Napier. It was a special game for Storm centre Tohu Harris, who is from the region, as he excelled with two try assists and a solid all-round performance.
Hearts were in mouths as Cooper Cronk was pulled from the field earlier than expected but he was all smiles on the bench as he nursed ice on his knee.
There was another positive for the Storm, as they welcomed the return of Matt Duffie who after two knee reconstructions and stints in the Queensland Cup, returned to the NRL after missing 66 games.
The first half was devoid of any real action or attacking spark but Fijian flyer Marika Koroibete kick-started the excitement, as he raced away down the sideline with blistering speed to score just before the break.
It was very nearly a shut-out for the Storm but a late try to the Dragons centre Peter Mata’utia denied that, as the Dragons are left scratching their heads as to what is next.
The win continues the Storm’s recent run of form and has them progressing well in the back-end of the season.
Duffie’s return is one that had many Storm fans cheering and he received huge plaudits from Storm coach Craig Bellamy upon his return.
“Me and his teammates havn’t seen everything he has gone through,” Bellamy said.
“He has obviously shown a lot of resilience, a lot of perseverance to get through was he has been through.
“To play like that tonight was tremendous. To me, it was a nice warm feeling at the end for him to get through it and have some really good touches.
“We were wrapped for him to play like he did and get through unscathed. Hopefully now he can have an uninterrupted run with injury because he deserves it.”
There was nothing but bluntness from Dragons coach Paul McGregor post-game, well aware that his side is struggling and searching for answers.
“I thought Melbourne gave us a lesson in how to build pressure,” McGregor said.
“We are not building any pressure with the ball. Far too many passes hit the deck and obviously we’ve got a really good intent behind out defence, it’s holding up but our attack is the side we need to fix.
“There has got to be a better purpose behind every play instead of just running if you need to.”
Player of the Game:
3. Tohu Harris
2. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
1. Matt Duffie
Melbourne Storm 22 (Marika Koroibete, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kevin Proctor, Mahe Fonua tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) def. St-George Illawarra Dragons 4 (Peter Mata’utia tries). Half-time: Storm 12-0. Crowd: .