Sharks still enjoy the grind
The Sharks looked to improve their attacking prowess with their recruitments last season, however at this stage, they are still a defensive machine. The Cronulla side enjoyed a glut of possession in the first 15 minutes post half time yet only managed to gain eight points courtesy of a converted Chad Townsend try and a penalty.
The home side also couldn’t add points when Will Chambers was sent to the sin bin early in the first half, showing they still have a way to go before they can consider themselves a real threat to opposition defensive lines.
Chad Townsend the home town hero
Cronulla had a completely new halves pairing at the start of the season, with James Maloney the recruit that had the Sharks’ faithful most excited. It has been Townsend, however, that has been in the better form, leading his side admirably around the park. The former Shark looks right back at home back in his original NRL club, scoring his third try of the season last night, as well as running for 83m and compiling 25 tackles.
It must be said that Maloney is starting to find his place too, laying on a try for Ben Barba, and landing pin point kicks to have Melbourne on the back foot for a majority of the game.
Melbourne falter for the first time
The Storm were uncharacteristically disorganised and flat in the loss to the Sharks. Their lack of organisation was perhaps best highlighted when champion halfback Cooper Cronk ran the ball on the last, and was caught by the Cronulla defence, with Cameron Smith standing in front of his number seven rather than giving support. Through out many attacking raids, the Melbourne outfit looked unsure of what they wanted to achieve. Coach Craig Bellamy will have given his team the spray of a lifetime when they returned back to the dressing rooms. Watch out Knights, next round!
The exception to the rot was Cameron Munster, who was punchy up the middle when coming to help out from the back.
Graham’s mouthguard goes missing
In the second half, Wade Graham copped a stray arm to the mouth and while he was inspected, it was clear the second rower wasn’t wearing a mouth guard. On further inspection of footage it was revealed what happened to his protective piece. Late in the first half, Graham’s mouth guard was dislodged in a tackle, and was then picked up by opposition captain Cameron Smith. The Melbourne hooker tucked the mouthguard safely away in to his sock, leaving Graham exposed.
It seems unlikely that Smith knew where the mouthguard came from, but it sure left Graham exposed. It might be time to add a spare guard to the kit.
In the sheds
Melbourne Storm lost rookie Curtis Scott in the first half to a suspected cracked fibula (leg). Scott originally thought it was a cork and played on for about ten minutes, before succumbing to the injury.
Marika Koroibete was also placed on report following a brain snap in which the winger tripped Townsend.
Sharks 14 (Ben Barba, Chad Townsend tries; James Maloney 3 goals) defeated Storm 6 (Felise Kaufusi tries; Cameron Smith 1 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium.