Storm strike against demoralised Warriors

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen

The New Zealand Warriors have had a less than ideal start to life after Stephen Kearney following a 50-6 battering at the hands of a ruthless Melbourne Storm outfit.

Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten was faced with the unenviable task of facing a fired-up Storm lineup in the first game of his head-coaching career.

Against the odds, the Warriors dominated the early stages of the match but were unable to capitalise on the momentum and favourable field position.

Instead, Paul Momirovski opened the account for Melbourne after twelve minutes.

He capitalised on a Josh Addo-Carr break to score in his first game since swapping clubs with Harry Grant.

Momirovski’s wing partner Suliasi Vunivalu then doubled the Storm’s advantage, strolling over off the back of a Ryan Papenhuyzen run.

The depth of both sides took a blow early with the Warriors losing Karl Lawton.

The Storm would then lose Cameron Munster, who suffered an MCL injury and luckless forward Christian Welch failed his HIA.

Ironically, it took 27 minutes for the Storm to register a single tackle inside the Warriors 20-metre line.

It only took four tackles for Ryan Papenhuyzen to cement Melbourne’s lead by scurrying over from dummy half.

Paul Momirovski then crossed for his second of the night to push the advantage out to 22 points despite having just 49% possession through the first half.

Todd Payten’s first NRL halftime speech reaped rapid returns in the second half with Patrick Herbert cashing in on the back of a slick backline shift.

But the Warriors joy was short lived as Ryan Papenhuyzen slid through for his second before Suliasi Vunivalu added two more tries to secure his first hat trick of the year.

When Brandon Smith snuck over with eighteen minutes to go, the scoreline began to get ugly.

Josh Addo-Carr then put the icing on the cake with seven minutes remaining after chasing down a Cameron Smith kick to bring up the half-century for Melbourne.

Speaking after the game, a brutally honest Todd Payten questioned his side’s commitment to the cause after a tough week for the club.

“Tonight’s performance was an indication of exactly where we are at,” Payten said.

“We’re a team that needs to have a sniff to kick on with it and if things go against us, we’re not tough enough to dig ourselves out of it.”

The bluntness had Payten questioning the commitment of his players.

“I question whether we had players who were willing to put their body on the line and fight hard for their teammates.”

For Melbourne, Craig Bellamy labelled his side’s attack as ‘clinical’ and praised his side’s effort in what was a ‘topsy-turvy week’.

He also praised the Warriors for the sacrifices they continue to make in order to ensure the competition can continue with sixteen teams.

The Warriors will advance to face the out-of-form Broncos next week, while the Storm will be challenged by Trent Robinson’s Roosters on Thursday night.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Ryan Papenhuyzen – Been relatively quiet this year but has always looked threatening.

Finally exploded tonight for two tries and a try assist.

2 Points – Jahrome Hughes – Big return for the halfback, just three weeks after breaking his hand.

Didn’t score a try but registered four assists in the demolition job.

1 Point – Paul Momirovski – Exciting signs for Tigers and Storm fans alike, with Momirovski crossing for two tries and laying one on too.

Could’ve had another try with a late intercept but was run down by Tuivasa-Sheck.

Melbourne Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes

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