2020 has been a different year but Craig Bellamy praised his Melbourne Storm side for their 22-16 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
In particular, he praised those fringe players like Chris Lewis and Darryn Schonig, who came in to plug a gap when injury struck.
“We’re down a few troops in our forwards at the moment but some of the young guys that have come into the team are doing a really good job for us,” Bellamy said.
“The guys we’re bringing into the team haven’t played any footy at all so to be coming in and doing the job they’re doing [is impressive].”
As the game went back and forth, it was ultimately some untimely errors from the Rabbitohs that denied them a chance of victory.
Coping with the loss of Latrell Mitchell, it would be the foundation club that would strike first.
Cody Walker grubbered through, the ball trickling towards the dead ball line.
Instead of playing at it, Issac Lumelume decided to let it go but he was beaten to the punch by Campbell Graham.
The Rabbitohs centre stormed towards the ball and grounded it before it went dead.
The Storm, who were a bit flat themselves to start the game, then roared back into the contest against the run of play.
A shift to the left saw Josh Addo-Carr burn the Souths defence with speed, before he found Ryan Papenhuyzen inside to score.
The Rabbitohs would not falter, though, hitting the lead once again as Adam Reynolds returned from his HIA.
Taking the ball to the line, Reynolds delivered a short pass and Cody Walker burst onto it to score the Rabbitohs second.
Up eight points at the break, all the momentum was with the Rabbitohs.
Though some attempted razzle-dazzle went awry, and the Storm were back in the contest.
Papenhuyzen was again involved, this time turning provider as he laid on a pass for Justin Olam to score.
Try as they might, the Rabbitohs defended staunchly but their line eventually cracked for another Storm try.
Close to the line, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui took a short ball from Cameron Smith and powered over with force.
The Storm would then hit the lead with Papenhuyzen again shining, with his second assist of the game for Cam Munster.
That would be all she wrote on the scoreline, with neither side able to add to the tally.
The Rabbitohs loss provides interesting battles in the bottom rungs of the top eight.
Bellamy was impressed with the way his side managed to claw their way back into the contest after a slow start.
“We didn’t get off to a great start and they were all over us early so to steady that game I thought was a good effort,” he said.
“The second half I was really happy with the way we started.
“We got right back into the game, we weren’t too over-enthusiastic to try and win the game then, we were quite patient.”
It was a different story from Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, who praised his side’s effort but nothing more.
“The opposition tonight for us was South Sydney, we put ourselves under more pressure than Melbourne did,” Bennett said.
“There was a lot of effort form us, but at the end of the day a lot of errors as well which doesn’t help out cause.
“I don’t think we’re too far behind the comp heavyweights… the effort was there but that’s about where it stops.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. Cody Walker
- Christian Welch