It was a great evening for the wide men, especially Suliasi Vunivalu, who crossed for four first half tries to make it 21 in 16 games this season. The flying Fijian has had a remarkable breakthrough season and heads the try scoring charts with only two rounds remaining. Tries number one and three came courtesy of cut-out balls from Cameron Munster, while two and four were laid on by the boot of Cooper Cronk.
Dan Parker also had a game to remember, as he crossed for a double in only his second first grade game. Despite being on the losing side the youngster scored his first try for the club on his Brookvale Oval debut after collecting a looping pass from Tom Trbojevic. He second came off the back of a Storm error, and Jorge Taufua also crossed on the opposite edge from a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb to mark his 100th NRL appearance with a try.
Marika Koroibete clearly didn’t get the memo.
Melbourne’s big names stood up to get them back to winning ways, as Cronk was at his usual best to lead his team to victory. His kicking game continues to open up defences, while Cameron Smith marshalled the visitors around the field. Their other Cameron was on form too, as Munster chimed into the line with a couple of try assists and was his usual solid self at the back. His kick returns are deadly and give his side a platform to attack, as Smith did when he crossed for his first try of the season off the back of a return from the number one.
After their six game winning streak was brought to an end by Canberra Raiders, it was vital that Storm got back on the horse to give their Minor Premiership chances a boost. They have temporarily moved three points clear at the top of the ladder, with Cronulla Sharks still to play on Monday night.
They have consistently been one of the best sides in the competition in 2016 and are hotly tipped to take out the Premiership double. They have two home fixtures left before the start of the finals, including a potential showdown for top spot with the Sharks in the final round.
What could have been
Back-to-back defeats in recent weeks have left Manly out of contention for the finals, as they sunk to loss number three in a row on Saturday evening. There is no doubting that they have a side full of talented individuals but they have been unable to click in 2016, meaning their season won’t go beyond Round 26.
In glimpses they showed what they are capable of in the second period, and they did well to absorb everything the away side threw at them in the opening 10 minutes of the second 40. When coming up against a side like Melbourne though there is little room for error, and they were well beaten in the end.
Manly Sea Eagles 18
Tries: Parker (19, 53), Taufua (62)
Goals: Wright 3/3
Melbourne Storm 38
Tries: Vunivalu (9, 25, 37, 40), K. Bromwich (14), Kaufusi (79)
Goals: Smith 4/6, Harris 1/1