Melbourne lifts for milestone man
The Storm have developed a reputation for rising to the occasion whenever a player hits a milestone in their playing career. The Big 3 have all celebrated wins in their 250th and 200th games in recent times and for Jesse Bromwich’s 150th game they ensured that once again a team-mate celebrating a milestone came out of the game with a victory. Perhaps it may be coincidence but in my opinion it’s a strong indicator of the culture that Craig Bellamy develops down at the Storm to respect and raise for your game for the man alongside you that has been a factor in their long term success.
Ferguson solid in positional shift
Blake Ferguson was shifted to fullback with regular young gun Latrell Mitchell shifted to wing. It was presumably a move designed to improve the Roosters goal-line defence. As I outlined in my preview it was a key factor in the Roosters being competitive as Latrell had struggled to stop tries close to the line whereas Ferguson’s stronger build was better defending at fullback where his tendency to rush out of the line wouldn’t have mattered as much.
It was a move that paid dividends almost immediately as Blake Ferguson scored the first try of the game within three minutes as he showed good awareness to scoop up a Pearce grubber that was deflected off the Storm and fend his way over the line. He was a little shaky up under the high ball, dropping his first one that led to a try but he wasn’t helped by a sneaky trip from Cameron Munster that went unnoticed. It was a solid performance though as he ran for 209m and notched a late try assist for Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Moving forward it’s a move the Roosters should persist with as it has eased the pressure on Latrell whose attacking skills are already exceptional but his defensive ability is still well below the standards of a first grade fullback.
Roosters just a class below
To the Roosters credit they have done well to compete against teams ranked much higher than them in a disappointing season where motivation and energy has been lacking. In their last two games against the top 2 teams in the comp who have lost a combined 5 games between them, the Roosters have taken it to them and have played like a team that is better than their position of 15th on the ladder suggests.
In both games they scored the first try early into the game and had a strong opening quarter but in the end the lack in class and quality became evident as the Roosters struggled to stamp their authority on the game and keep momentum in their hands. Whether it’s an inability to build pressure when it’s needed and get that repeat set or a great defensive play that stops a game changing try, the Roosters don’t have it this year. To finish the year they still have a tough run home but it is up to them to focus on the positives not the negatives and keep building on these performances. They may lack the killer instincts now but if they keep working on it there’s no reason they can’t pull off an upset late in the season and give their fans something to cheer about.
Race for the Minor Premiership neck and neck
With the Storm’s victory on Saturday they have put it beyond reasonable doubt that the Top 2 teams this year will be them and the Sharks. The Storm have looked just about unstoppable this year only losing 3 games. Their rival for the minor premiership, the Sharks handed them their first loss in Round 4 and a determined Bulldogs side handed them their only home loss of the year in Round 6. Since then their only loss has been to the Dragons and they were missing their Origin stars alongside Blake Green and Cameron Munster.
Despite their impressive form this year they are still somewhat flying under the radar as all the attention has been on the Sharks winning streak and the story of their potential maiden premiership. The Storm will likely appreciate the deflection in attention as they have shown this year they have everything it takes to win the comp. Despite an injury crisis in the backline earlier in the year that saw a utility half and a back-rower in the centres at one point, the Storm found a way to keep winning. With an ability to overcome adversity and grind out the tough wins it’ll be an exciting time to see if the Storm can pip the Sharks at the post to win the race for the minor premiership.
In The Sheds
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves came off the field after 20 minutes with a knee injury. It’es expected to be a short recovery time but coach Trent Robinson said it won’t be right in five days for their next match.
Melbourne Storm– 26
Tries: Dale Finucane (14m), Cooper Cronk ((27m), Kevin Proctor (65m), Tohu Harris (74m)
Goals: Cameron Smith 5/5
Sydney Roosters– 10
Tries: Blake Ferguson (4m), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (79m)
Goals: Sio Siua Taukeiaho 1/2