With six Origin stars out of their team, it was always going to be difficult for the young Storm outfit to get the better of the in-form Eels. But considering they had only lost the one game throughout the Origin period thus far, it was definitely possible.
Sin Bins Kill
In this day and age, having a player sent to the sin bin almost guarantees a loss. Unfortunately for the Melbourne Storm, this was the end result in this case. Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu had an off night, especially in the first half, and this included a sin binning. Two tries were scored as a result of Vunivalu getting sent to the bin. The first was when he was off the field. The second was when he returned and tried to make an instant impact in defence, but this backfired by allowing Semi Radradra to get around him and score in the corner. The score line at this time was 16-0 against the Storm and the game was as good as gone. It seems that the referees are more willing to make the call now as well, so we’ll probably see a few more sin bins before the season ends.
Moses Finding His Feet?
The first thing you notice about Mitchell Moses is his energy. The lethargy we saw at the Tigers earlier this season has gone and the nervousness of his earlier games for Parramatta has disappeared. He looks to do everything up tempo and his teammates are feeding off it. You can see it in his support play and you can see it when he has the ball in hand. You can even see it in his defensive efforts now. One thing is for sure though, Michael Jennings and Bevan French are enjoying the extra space Moses is creating for them at the moment. They had an enjoyable night down the right-side flank against the Storm. Eels fans can only hope that this continues.
Semi Will Take Some Replacing
Semi’s first 3 runs of the game equated to 128m, 3 tackle busts and 3 line breaks. Two were kick returns that gave Parramatta great momentum to start their sets. The third almost went the length of the field for a try and resulted in the sin binning of Vunivalu. Radradra made the talented Vunivalu look out of his depth time and time again in this game, especially in the first half. No easy feat.
Parramatta’s enigmatic winger will take some replacing next season after he leaves to play French rugby. In fact, you could argue that he is irreplaceable. Especially after a game like this. Hopefully the talented Fijian can finish the season strongly for the blue and golds. His impact on a game when he is “on” is immeasurable and will be a huge factor in Parramatta making the finals again or not.
Storm Youth Still Impresses
Write these names down: Jahrome Hughes, Ryley Jacks and Brodie Croft. They are the next wave of superstars for the Storm. Despite the loss, the 1, 6 and 7 showed once again that they are ready to make the step up to first grade. Croft will no doubt fill Cooper Cronk’s boots in 2018. He is already known as the “Cooper Clone” so this makes perfect sense. In fact there were more than a handful of plays from the young halfback in this game that made you think it was actually Cronk on the field.
Hughes and Jacks will get their opportunities as well, especially when Billy Slater decides to “hang ’em up”. A Storm backline containing Croft, Jacks, Cameron Munster and Hughes will be the norm for the best part of the next decade. And they will give plenty of opposition coaches plenty of headaches.
Tries: French (5m), Moses (17m), Radradra (22m), Gutherson (70m)
Goals: Gutherson 3/4
Tries: Hughes (37m)
Goals: Stimson 1/1