Melbourne Storm confirmed their favouritism for this year’s National Rugby League premiership blowing St George-Illawarra Dragons off the park in the first 50 minutes at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
STORM EXPOSE DRAGONS OUT WIDE
Melbourne’s first half was outstanding as they exposed the Dragons compact defence. If it wasn’t Billy Slater kicking out wide for Suliasi Vunivalu catching out Jason Nightingale, it was Josh Addo-Carr’s pace out wide making Nene McDonald look like an ordinary first grade player. Both players had doubles before the break as the Storm headed into the sheds 22-4 ahead.
With the Storm taking out the second placed Dragons the question remains who can compete with the Melbourne club in their current form? Maybe the ‘Shire Sharks?
BILLY SLATER DOMINATES JOSH DUGAN IN FULLBACK BATTLE
The representative future of Billy Slater might be in doubt mainly due to the success of Darius Boyd at fullback, but today showed he’s still one of the best as he dominated Josh Dugan in the fullback battle.
Slater scored two second half tries as the Storm led 34-4 thirteen minutes into the second half. It was a tough afternoon for Dugan who went down injured mid-way through the second half after returning the ball from his in-goal.
If Mal Meninga is willing to play Dugan out of position in the centres, surely Slater could have been given an opportunity in the Kangaroos squad?
JASON NIGHTINGALE HAT-TRICK REMINDS DRAGONS HE’S VALUABLE
Jason Nightingale is 31 this year and believes he can still play for a couple of more seasons. His three tries against the Storm showed he has the finishing ability that’s required at the top level. It also moves him to 98 career tries after 230 games.
But it’s a delicate situation for the club to retain some of their other top stars including Josh Dugan. Hopefully Nightingale can remain a one club player, something rare in this day where players are after the best deal.
CRONK SIN BIN JUSTIFIED
There was some thought among television commentators that Cooper Cronk’s sin bin with fifteen minutes to go was harsh. The referee had no option but to take action on the professional foul being third man in after a long break by Dragons.
Maybe the fact that the sin bin is ten minutes is more the question.
It feels like ten minutes is too much of an advantage now and that five minutes is a better fit. This was demonstrated when the Dragons converted the extra man advantage by scoring twice in the ten minute period.
Melbourne Storm 34
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Josh Addo-Carr 2, Billy Slater 2
Goals: Cameron Smith 5
St George-Illawarra Dragons 22
Tries: Jason Nightingale 3, Cameron McInnes, Tariq Sims
Goals: Josh Dugan 1