The Melbourne Storm took to AAMI Park looking to break a rare losing streak and secure equal first place while Parramatta Eels were looking to continue a rare winning streak and avoid the wooden spoon.
The game went much more in the way of the home side as they rattled the bottom ladder team to secure a 20-4 win despite an injury to captain Cameron Smith.
Melbourne were out to prove their dominance early in the game with 4 repeat sets forcing Parramatta to defend strong early on.
Will Chambers finally broke the Parramatta defense after beating George Jennings for the retrieval of a floating kick to score Melbourne’s first points.
The two teams fought hard for the remainder of the half, however, Parramatta’s lack of discipline secured a handy 10-point lead for the Storm with Smith kicking two penalty goals.
With 10 minutes to go in the half, Cameron Smith left the field with a back injury after an awkward tackle from Parramatta enforcer Nathan Brown.
The injury was deemed severe enough to keep Smith out for the remainder of the game and cement concern amongst the fans.
Parramatta came out firing in the second half, however, Melbourne’s defensive pressure managed to hold them out despite multiple repeat sets.
The visitors were granted a prime opportunity when Cameron Munster was sin binned, although they were unable to capitalise on this advantage.
With a player in the bin and their captain in the sheds, the Storm dug deep and found their next points through Nelson Asofa-Solomona who steamrolled over multiple Eels defenders to get the ball down.
Parramatta’s lack of composure and defensive pressure from the Storm kept them scoreless and obviously rattled.
The Storm strengthened their lead with a try to Curtis Scott who took on a tired, disheartened Parramatta defensive line.
The home team were unable to keep the boys in blue and gold pointless however with Clinton Gutherson showing incredible acrobatic skills to put a Brad Takairangi ball down in the corner.
A late no try to Mitchell Moses kept Parramatta’s final tally at 4 and the Melbourne Storm equal first.
Eels coach Brad Arthur did not mince words. A lack of execution is what cost his side.
“We created some opportunities that we didn’t take – you can’t do that against close to the top side in the competition,” he said.
“We were our own worst enemy.
“We needed more patience at the try line.
“We don’t need to score off every play.
We needed to be more patient and build some pressure on the try line.”
The big talking point will be the Cameron Smith injury, though there was some positive news with it, for it could just be back spasms.
“Cameron [Smith] just had a spasm in joints in his back which he’s had before,” Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
“I don’t know if there will be X-rays or anti-inflammatories.
I don’t think it’s anything too serious but how serious is, I don’t know, especially with backs.”
Player of the Match:
3. Brodie Croft
2. Jesse Bromwich
1. Dale Finucane