The Melbourne Storm tonight took the 2 points from the trip to Oki Jubilee stadium tonight, but only after some tense moments as the young and out of form Dragons kept in the match until late in the back end.
St George Illawarra Dragons: Showed a more committed attitude tonight, and were much improved from their previous outing against the Cronulla Sharks. The forward pack showed more punch, with Poore and Payne really revving up and getting over the advantage line – a tough ask against the premier Melbourne Storm pack. Cooper really went looking for work tonight and assisted many times and was able to create room with his link ups with Hornby. Hornby was at his usual best, making the correct decisions most times and forcing the defence to hang back and wait his moves. Probably the negative in the Saints side at the moment is the defence of Ritchie ‘Rich’ Williams. While looking solid in attack, Ritchie Rich does plenty of arm grabbing in tackles and let the opposition through on several occasions. Some poor ball control really erased any chance the Saints had of winning, especially on a night where they COULD have won – due to plenty of Melbourne mistakes and gift penalties. You rarely get chances like that against the Storm. Severely missing Young, Gaz and Head – I felt dropping Head to reserve grade was a touch over the top and the Saints should have him at 7 and Hornbag at 6. Poor kicking game saw the Saints hand Billy Slater so much ball on the full, and they then had to try and stop him slicing through the broken defence line! Kudos must go to Josh Morris who had an impressive game at the back, nice positional play and supreme attacking raids as he chimed into the Dragons backline – bagging a try and outgunning Billy Slater for pace which is a rare feat.
Melbourne Storm: Wow, how many Melbourne Storm forwards can you name without reading their team line-up? I bet not many! These forwards aren’t household names in NSW and QLD, but they are putting in a massive performance each week. Guys like Hoffman, Johnston, Lima, White and Kafusi are playing power games and really are a handfull for opposition teams. I think when the Storm face the likes of the Bulldogs and Souths it will be such a tense forward battle – bring it on. Slater was slick again tonight, and the Dragons continued to kick to him on the full – bombing Slater failed badly and he cut the Dragons up very well in broken field. Matt Geyer had an off night dropping some ball and giving away brain explosion penalties that nearly let the Dragons get back into the game. Israel Falou continues to grow and grow, some punishing defence from the youngster and a dynamic kick regather try for the Storm is ensuring he has a role in the side for the future. The Storm still have room for improvement and when they click – the score could really be anything. A slight injury scare to Cameron Smith as his leg got buckled back in goal, more info through the week on this.
Summary: Dragons are simply not of first grade quality at the moment. Too many rookies means not enough experience, with their regular cast of thousands injured – it puts the Dragons in a rebuilding type phase and while they have some young guns – their time will be in 1 or 2 years from now. The Storm meanwhile are winning, but not even playing near their best. Belamy will hammer the Storm this week on their discipline and the next few games will see them really rise and rise.
Melbourne 24 (S Turner 2 I Falou, M King, A Quinn tries ; C Smith 1, S Turner conversions)
St George Illawarra 10 (W Naiqama, J Morris tries; W Naiqama conversion)
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