The Storm kept their impressive record at Suncorp Stadium going, with a dominating 42-12 win over their rivals from Brisbane. The Broncos suffer a tough loss without star players Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford, while Melbourne were graced with four big stars returning from over a week off from footy thanks to Coach Craig Bellamy.
Broncos fall at their own hand
The Storm were ruthless in Brisbane, and the game felt awfully similar to every matchup between the two since 2011. Without a win since 2009 at home, the Broncos needed to play out of their skins, but they were hurting themselves rather than the Storm hurting them. Melbourne’s first try came from a Broncos knock on with Ben Hunt and Adam Blair getting too excited with offloading the ball. Suliasi Vunivalu scored in the corner with no defence in front of him after just 3 minutes, and from there Brisbane were on the back foot and already looking the less likely to walk away with the victory. Try number two, scored by Josh Addo-Carr on the opposite end was set up from another Brisbane mistake and a fresh set of six for the Storm with a 57 percent competition percentage. Brisbane’s mistakes weren’t far beyond Melbourne’s, with both sides having 13 overall, but it was how Melbourne attacked Brisbane’s defence and stretched them out with long passing and set plays that tore the Broncos up.
Overall the Broncos only completed 57 percent of their sets, compared to Melbourne’s 73 percent, and stemming from that their performance was well below average and below the standards of a Wayne Bennett coached side.
Defence the backbone to Storm success
Although the Broncos helped out the Storm, by supplying them with the ball for a lot of their play, when Brisbane attacked it was Melbourne’s defence that prevented them from getting back into the match. Impenetrable is the perfect word to describe it, as the Storm had no trouble isolating any sort of Brisbane resurgence, whether it was Ben Hunt looking to break the line of defence, or passes out to James Roberts looking for open space. Brisbane’s finishing of sets was below average, with many options to run the ball quickly stopped by the Storm, highlighted by both Benji Marshall and Tautau Moga panicking at one stage on the left side during the second half, as well as any sort of kicking game handled easily by Melbourne’s back three of Slater, Vunivalu and Addo-Carr.
Melbourne are the best defensive side in the competition, and the team second to them, the Broncos, are now clearly a long way back when seeing how Melbourne’s strong line was unbreakable.
Blair penalty the turning point
Amongst all the chaos occurring in the first half, with the Broncos looking scrappy and lost, the point of turn in the contest was midway through the second half. The Broncos had scored in the left corner through David Mead, and with a little momentum only needed two scores to take the lead, which was surprising given the immense dominance of Melbourne through the bulk of the match. The scores sitting at 20-12, the Storm were on fourth tackle, on their own side of the half way line and struggling to move up the field. Adam Blair sat in the tackle for too long, and gave Melbourne a golden opportunity to extend their lead with great field position and a new set of six. With numbers out right they took advantage and sent youngster Curtis Scott over the line to score his second try of the game. From there Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Josh Addo-Carr all scored tries, and the Storm saw out the game 42-12.
Blair’s penalty wasn’t rough, or a harsh call, it was just the timing and the placement that hurt the Broncos. After Scott’s try they lost the will to compete, and the result was most definitely set in stone.
Munster puts his hand up for Origin
Kevin Waters would be a nervous man at the moment, with Thurston and Milford out with injuries. His selection for the Queensland halves is off a short list, but with his work next to Cooper Cronk and an undeniably brilliant connection between them, Cameron Munster would be one of the front runners to put on the Maroons jersey and take the field for Origin III.
Munster has been, for three years, put behind all the stars names in terms of Origin priority, and rightfully so. For the first time in a long time though he is part of the crop of players who need to be called up, and his play this year speak volumes to his necessity in the team. Munster theoretically assisted in all three of Melbourne’s opening tries, and broke the line of Brisbane’s defence to set up Melbourne’s third score. His large frame means he has the potential to pay anywhere in the backline, and that gives Walters a reliable option who can over a lot of the field. His work a fullback gives him a defensive advantage and his work with Cronk, Smith and Slater over the years means team chemistry should be no issue. The likes of Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt arguably have more right for selection, but Munster should be a serious consideration for Walters, and in the future a regular selection.
Tries: Vunivalu (2) (5m, 30m), Addo-Carr (2) (13m, 80m), Scott (2) (16m, 58m), Slater (60m), Smith (64m)
Goals: Smith 5/8
Tries: Hunt (21m), Mead (53m)
Goals: Kahu 2/2