It was a tough, hard slog throughout the entire match between the two sides but it was the Melbourne Storm who came out on top as they recorded a come-from-behind win against the Parramatta Eels.
Billed as a potential grand final in the eyes of many, both sides burst out of the blocks initially before they were worn down by a Storm side rampant with class and experience.
First points ended up with the Storm as Josh Addo-Carr plucked the ball out of thin air with one hand off the back of a Curtis Scott offload to go over untouched.
From there on in, the Storm dominated both field position and possession and looked to be on the ascendancy, before Cameron Munster was sin-binned for a professional foul; turning the game on its head.
The Eels capitalised with their extra man and scored two tries courtesy of a shift play to Kirisome Auva’a on the wing and a lovely inside pass from half Mitch Moses to set up fullback Will Smith.
At the break, the Eels had their tails up and went into half-time leading 10-4. Complacency is the one thing you can never have against the Storm and ill-discipline creeping into the Eels game gave the Storm ample opportunities.
Two well-worked tries by the Storm; the first, a razzle-dazzle, offload-laden team try, eventually resulting in back-rower Felise Kaufusi scoring and the second to Billy Slater as a result of a chip kick by Addo-Carr.
A further penalty goal sent the Storm even further ahead and it would prove to be the difference despite a late try to Semi Radradra on the back of good combinations with centre Brad Takairangi.
Pleased to see his side go toe-to-toe with the Storm for portions of the game, Eels coach Brad Arthur praised his side’s efforts but knows that it was a missed opportunity.
“That’s a missed opportunity but the boys showed plenty of want, plenty of desire, showed that we are good enough,” Arthur said.
“No one gave us a chance but we showed that we’re good enough.
“I’m extremely proud of our boys for the way they fought back, we just didn’t have any ball or field position in that second half and the first opportunity we got down there we scored.”
Eels captain Tim Mannah echoed those sentiments, stating that his side has the belief within themselves to beat anyone.
“We’re not surprised to be in the position we’re in,” Mannah said.
“We’ve got a lot of belief in our squad and our coaching staff so the goal doesn’t change for us. We’ll strive for the big goal and prepare for this next game.”
As for key Storm performer Josh Addo-Carr, nerves almost got the better of him prior to the contest but he put those behind him as he delivered a comprehensive display.
“It was very nervous but exciting,” he said.
“It was a good experience for myself. Once I just run out on the field, it goes away. I’m nervous every game I suppose. I think that’s a good thing – it shows I really care about my football.”
Player of the Game:
3. Josh Addo-Carr
2. Suaia Matagi
- Jesse Bromwich
Melbourne Storm 18 (Josh Addo-Carr, Kenny Bromwich, Billy Slater tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 16 (Kirisome Auva’a, Will Smith, Semi Radradra tries; Mitchell Moses 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 22,626. Half-time: Eels 10-4.