Seemingly on the rise, the Parramatta Eels had confidence. That evaporated, however, as the Melbourne Storm crushed it with a resounding 64-10 win.
Only a 64-4 win in 2013 was worse at the hands of the Storm but it shows that the Eels, although good, are some way off the pace against top teams.
It started ugly, stayed ugly and finished ugly, as the Storm were on the prowl from the very beginning.
Quick feet from Cameron Munster to dart past defenders put the Storm ahead.
This was quickly followed by a lovely pass from skipper Cameron Smith, allowing Dale Finucane to score under the posts.
The Eels tried to prove their mettle and got a try to put pressure on the Storm via Shaun Lane, but any luck stopped soon after that.
A wickedly cruel bounce saw the Storm score again, as the ball deceived Eels winger Blake Ferguson, allowing Suliasi Vunivalu to score.
A determined try then followed, as Jahrome Hughes, despite his smaller stature, powered through four Eels players, three bigger than himself to score.
When Maika Sivo was sin-binned for high contact early in the second half, an onslaught ensued for the Storm.
A raid on Sivo’s now vacant wing saw the Storm score again, before Munster nabbed a second when he started and finished a long raid.
A Clint Gutherson fumble then saw another Storm try, as Smith was on hand to find Brodie Croft to score.
Young gun Ryan Papenhuyzen made his mark felt, as he raced away with pace to further humiliate the Eels.
Kenny Bromwich scored one for good measure but the Eels would avoid a heaviest defeat when Sivo came back on to score.
Papenhuyzen was again involved, as he and Josh Addo-Carr turned Eels defenders inside out to extend their lead.
It was an embarrassing Eels performance and coach Brad Arthur admitted it was ugly.
“We went from a tough performance last week (against the Dragons) in the space of seven days to our softest performance,” said Arthur of his side.
“You’re only as good as your last game and that was rubbish… we were not prepared to play these blokes for 80 minutes.”
Pressuring his players to perform after a Sharks loss last week or face the flick, his players stepped up and Storm coach Craig Bellamy was pleased.
“I certainly wasn’t looking for that score, but the performance is what we were looking for…and I’m not talking about the 60, I am taking about the 10,” he said.
“We were much better defensively, much more patient with the footy.
“I think we have been a bit complacent at times in games, but I didn’t see that tonight.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Cameron Munster
2. Ryan Papenhuyzen
- Cameron Smith