Melbourne Storm have dominated the 2018 World Club Challenge by recording a 38-4 victory over Leeds Rhinos at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Leeds Rhinos stunned the National Rugby League champions early with Ryan Hall scoring the opening try of the game. From that point forward it was all the Melbourne Storm. Rookie halfback Brodie Croft sent Jessie Bromwich approaching the twenty minute mark to draw scores level. Croft scored a brilliant individual try six minutes later to establish a 10-4 lead. But it was Suliasi Vunivalu’s powerful run which caught a tiring Rhinos defence napping right on half time that blew the game wide open.
With Billy Slater missing the full second half, it took ten minutes for the Storm to cross in the second half through Nelson Asofa-Solomona, before Croft was involved again to send Felise Kaufusi over. A touch back from Vunivalu for Will Chambers gave Melbourne it’s sixth try for the night. Dale Finucane’s try just before full-time gave Melbourne a comprehensive 38-4 victory.
CONCERNS OVER SLATER’S SHOULDER
Some angst in the Melbourne Storm camp after Billy Slater didn’t return for the second half. It appeared that Slater landed on his shoulder awkwardly towards half-time in running the ball back from his in-goal. Despite telling Channel 9 sideline commentator Darren Lockyer he was good at half time, it seems the Storm took precautions with their veteran fullback. Thankfully they have a handy backup in Cameron Munster if Slater has done any damage.
RHINOS STRUGGLING WITH THE FINER POINTS
10,500 miles separate Leeds and Melbourne. You could blame some jet-lag for the Rhinos dropping off after half-time. They get ten out of ten for commitment as they matched the Storm, and possibly outplayed the home side early on. Discipline, missed tackles and handling errors got the better of them as the NRL franchise made them pay time after time. English rugby league has come leaps and bounds during the off-season thanks to their Rugby League World Cup success. Leeds should hold their heads high in a gallant effort.
TWO YOUNG STARS SET FOR BIG FUTURES
Brodie Croft and Jack Walker represent the future of rugby league. It’s incredible to think that the Rhinos fullback Walker made his debut in Super League at the age of 17. You can see why. He was pretty safe at the back and put his body on the line several times. Such courage will see him go far. Unfortunately injury ended his night early. As for Croft, the twenty year old controlled the game well in scoring a try and setting up another couple. He has big shoes to fill with the departure of Cooper Cronk, but the signs are good early on that the focus and intent is there from the young half. Croft producing a Man of the Match performance.
MATT PARCELL VS CAMERON SMITH
Two proud Queenslander’s opposed each other in the number 9 jumper. Smith, the smart experience rake. Parcell, the flashy playmaker who’s making a big name for himself in Super League. When Smith was driven back in a tackle by Parcell during the second half, it was the Storm captain who resented the tackle and earned a penalty from the officials. The Rhino was unimpressed with the decision, which ultimately led to Asofa-Solomona scoring. A very harsh call – let’s hope we don’t see much of that refereeing in NRL 2018 edition.
MELBOURNE STORM 38
Tries: Jessie Bromwich, Brodie Croft, Suliasi Vunivalu, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Felise Kaufusi, Will Chambers, Dale Funicane
Goals: Cameron Smith 4, Cameron Munster
Drop Goals: n/a
LEEDS RHINOS 4
Tries: Ryan Hall
Drop Goals: n/a
Melbourne Storm: Slater; Vunivalu, Chambers, Scott, Addo-Carr; Munster, Croft; Bromwich, C Smith, Glasby, Kaufusi, Hoffman, Finucane. Replacements: B Smith, Asofa-Solomona, K Bromwich, Welch.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall; Moon, Myler; Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Ward. Replacements: Dwyer, Delaney, Keinhorst, Ormondroyd.