Fresh off a long-off-season, the Melbourne Storm have shown no signs of showing down as kickstarted their 2018 campaign with a solid win over a new-look Canterbury Bulldogs side at Optus Stadium in Perth.
Despite the loss of Billy Slater due to an injury he sustained at the World Club Challenge and the loss of key personnel this off-season, that did little to stop the Storm’s desire to win.
The Storm’s record in the opening round of the season is remarkable; they have won fourteen straight round 1 games.
Although the Bulldogs looked the goods with a new attacking style and structure under coach Dean Pay, it was not enough to topple a side that boasts talent in almost every position.
Deputising at fullback for the Storm, Cameron Munster proved that he is on the cusp of becoming an elite player with a starring display for the Storm in their 36-18 win.
Equally impressive was Moses Mbye for the Bulldogs, who has made the shift to fullback for 2018. The decision was justified as he made a good break early on and continued to perform strongly.
It was the Bulldogs who opened the scoring as Kieran Foran showed his running skills, taking the line on and finding a barnstorming Raymond Faitala-Mariner who sliced through a gap to score.
The Storm forwards would not be outdone, however, as Nelson Asofa-Solomona showed his class with a great offload for Ryley Jacks to score, who was deputising in the halves.
It was then that the Munster show made an appearance. After the two clubs cancelled each other out with tries to Curtis Scott and Brett Morris respectively, Munster mad his presence felt.
Chiming in brilliantly from the back, he laid on lovely plays and passes to provide both winger Josh Addo-Carr and back-rower Kenny Bromwich with tries to which both capitalised.
Despite the Bulldogs best efforts and with all the momentum, in the end, a second try to Addo-Carr was the icing on the cake as he raced away to score off a Bulldogs fumble.
There was nothing but praise for Munster and the way he performed in the Storm’s opening win by Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
“He didn’t even have a touch there for a while but when he had a few, he caused some problems,” Bellamy said.
“He’s a very, very talented player. No matter where he plays, he’s always going to have a real impact. He was one of our best tonight. He turned the game for us.
“At the moment, probably, No.1 is his best position because he’s probably played there more. The more time he gets at the No.6, he will be able to play that position as well as he plays fullback. It’s pretty exciting to see what he’s doing.”
Despite their loss, Dogs coach Dean Pay believes his side showed enough to perform consistently in 2018.
”I thought we had some good periods there, the period before half time they rolled up the field too easy,” Pay said
”Where we finished our sets and where we were kicking didn’t help us too much, there were definitely some promising signs there that we can play some decent football. We had some opportunities we didn’t take as well. There are some things there we need to fix as well.
”I thought there were some good things. Kieran [Foran] was quite good. Moses Mbye was good at the back. He played really well. Raymond Faitala-Marine on the edge was good and got through 80 minutes.’
Player of the Game:
3. Cameron Munster
2. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
1 .Josh Addo-Carr
Storm 36 (Addo-Carr 2, Jacks, Scott, K. Bromwich, Vunivalu tries; Smith 6 goals) def. Bulldogs 18 (Faitala-Mariner, B. Morris, Frawley tries; Mbye 3 goals) at Perth Stadium.