Despite flashes of promise throughout the first half, an uninspired Canterbury Bulldogs failed to capitalise when given opportunities, going down 41-10 to a professional Melbourne Storm side.

The storm were without stars Cameron Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Dale Finucane, all missing from the teamsheet,

Against the re-shuffled Storm outfit, there would never be a better opportunity for the cellar-dwelling Bulldogs to pull off a David-and-Goliath ambush of the minor premiership favourites.

In the pre-game, Lachlan Lewis spoke of their need to start well and contain the Storm wingers.

It seemed their preparation was apt, with alarm bells going off early, as both Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu threatened the leaky Canterbury edges.

Despite those early danger signs, the Bulldogs had the better of possession in the opening 10 minutes, with newly crowned fullback Nick Meaney threatening out wide.

However, it was a Lachlan Lewis harbour bridge pass that saw Josh Addo-Carr streak away for Melbourne’s first points.

An avalanche of points would follow, kicked off when Munster linked up with Nicho Hynes to see the young fullback go over for a four-pointer.

Two minutes later and Hynes would pay it forward, putting Justin Olam through a hole to run 40 metres for Melbourne’s third try in six minutes.

It didn’t look like it was going to get any easier for the hurting Bulldogs when Kenny Bromwich crashed over shortly after, but the try was called back due to a penalty in the lead-up

The relief was short-lived however, when Bromwich again crossed the white stripe.

He wouldn’t be denied this time, with Melbourne racking up their fourth try.

Further pain was heaped upon the struggling Bulldogs when centre Jake Averillo was ruled out with a hip injury.

The Dogs would hit back almost immediately however, with a Kieran Foran juggle to Tim Lafai, scoring his first try back in Canterbury colours in the 28th minute.

The sides would remain scoreless until the half, bar a last-second field goal from Cameron Munster.

Coming out of the break, it would be the Dogs who posted first points, with Reimis Smith the grateful recipient of an inch-perfect Foran bomb.

It seemed a comeback was on the cards only moments later when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was denied only by the fingertips of Munster.

The Bulldogs match plan would start going astray though, when halfback Lachlan Lewis was sent to the bin for a high shot on Munster.

The already under-strength Storm would face another blow, when Cameron Munster’s heavily-strapped knee twisted awkwardly under the weight of Canterbury captain Josh Jackson.

The mercurial five-eighth hobbled from the field with 26 minutes left and wouldn’t return.

Further Bulldogs errors compounded the Bulldogs pain.

Attacking Melbourne’s line, a wayward pass from Josh Jackson saw Suliasi Vunivalu sprint from his wing.

Utilising a touch of soccer skills, chased the ball down for a try in the 55th minute, putting the Storm beyond three converted tries.

The Storm would cross again on the very next set, when the impressive fill-in custodian Nicho Hynes combined with the right edge to put Vunivalu over the try line, only to be held up by Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

However, it was straight through the hands to the left to see Kenny Bromwich go over for his second.

An error-riddled final 15 saw both sides slow down the tempo of play until Addo-Carr pounced on a fortunate ball to put the game to bed with less than two minutes on the clock.

The win sees Melbourne temporarily reclaim first place on the ladder, while the luckless Bulldogs remain in last on just four points.

The Storm will be sweating on the severity of Munster’s injury, however it seems certain he will miss their crucial clash with the defending premiers next week.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, will be desperately searching for how to avoid their fifth wooden spoon ahead of their local derby with the Wests Tigers.

Melbourne Storm 41 (Addo Carr 2, Hynes, Olam, K. Bromwich 2, Vunivalu) def Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 (Lafai, Smith)

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – Cameron Munster

Munster dominated the Bulldogs edges and pierced their middle before his injury in the second half.

A try assist, line break assist and 12 runs in 54 minutes put the Bulldogs to bed before he left the field with a knee injury that could see him miss the next few weeks.

2 Points – Nicho Hynes

The 24-year-old Central Coast product was a stand-out filling in for the rested Ryan Papenhuyzen.

He scored a try, ran for more than 160 metres, notched up four tackle busts, a line break and a line break assist.

Unafraid to run the ball, Hynes also linked up well with smart passes, particularly putting Olam through a beautiful hole to see the PNG favourite bag a meat pie.

1 Point – Kieran Foran

Again the bright spot in a dismal side. Foran produced the goods to provide the assist for both tries for the Bulldogs.

Dug in and did the hard work as always. Canterbury looked lost when the ball went Lachlan Lewis’ way in the second half.

Melbourne Storm fullback Nicho Hynes


By rcurran

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