Rugby league is a game of highs and lows and whilst the Melbourne Storm may have won with a gritty, grinding performance, that win was dampened by the loss of star forward Jesse Bromwich with a likely fractured thumb.
On the field, the Storm raced out to an early 10-0 lead but after that, they did not score a point for 73 minutes. Instead, their steely defensive resolve came to the fore as they battled and fought their way through, overcoming the loss of Bromwich.
In the end, the Bulldogs, despite throwing the kitchen sink at the Storm defence, failed to crack them often enough to cause issues, leaving the Storm with a 12-6 win.
With increased attempts to spread the ball wide to create space and opportunities, more often than not, chances failed to materialise for the Bulldogs. Fans attending and watching the game became critical of their side for the lack of options in attack.
There was, however, praise galore for new recruit Brenko Lee who looked damaging in his role as centre.
From a Storm perspective, Josh Addo-Carr impressed, recording a line-break with his first touch in Storm colours. Consequently, though, the Storm face a nervous wait regarding Cam Munster who was placed on report for a trip.
The Storm’s strong start early led many to believe that a whitewash was in order but the Dogs showed resolve of their own and started to wrestle back momentum. Whilst they did pull back one try, that was all they got in the end.
In the end, despite the Bulldogs best efforts, the second half remained scoreless and it was the Storm who produced one of their trademark gritty efforts.
Already without fellow Kiwi forward Tohu Harris, the loss of Bromwich is a huge blow for the Storm and coach Craig Bellamy did not mince his words when talking about the injury.
“It is a big blow, huge. He didn’t even hesitate to come off,” Bellamy said post-match.
“As soon as he was in the tackle, and it was a pretty innocuous tackle it didn’t look like anything, but all of a sudden he was headed for the sideline which is not like him at all so he knew he’d done some bad damage.
“He’s dislocated it – I don’t know whether he’s busted it or not but he’s dislocated it, it’s come through the skin so he’s obviously looked down – I think he actually put his hand and felt the bone sticking out with his thumb sort of drooping down, that’s why he knew there was something wrong so I imagine that’s going to be a fair few weeks.”
Knowing how crucial Jesse Bromwich is to the Storm side, Bellamy praised his other forwards for rising to the occasion in his absence.
“To have some of them young blokes come off, they had to play longer minutes tonight and I thought they did a pretty good job. They’ll need to back that up the next few weeks because he’ll be missing for a while I think,” Bellany continued.
“Those guys that stood up tonight, they’re going to have to stand up every week and it’s a real test for them because they really haven’t done that consistently over any period of time. We’ll need them to do that in the coming weeks.”
Our Players of the Game:
3. Josh Addo-Carr
2. Jordan McLean
- Aiden Tolman
Melbourne Storm 12 (Blair, Vunivalu tries; Smith 2 goals) defeated Canterbury Bulldogs 6 (Reynolds try; Holland goal) at Belmore Sportsground. Half time: Storm 12-6. Crowd: 8,712.