The high-flying Melbourne Storm recorded their first win of the season in an enthralling contest, defeating a valiant Brisbane Broncos outfit 22-12 at AAMI Park.
Right from the kick-off, it was all guns blazing from Craig Bellamy’s men. Back to back penalties against the Broncos in the first two minutes proved costly, with the Storm immediately capitalising on their valuable field position. In a sweeping shift to the left, a rampaging Cameron Munster utilised his strength to slice through the Broncos’ right edge and create space for fullback Jahrome Hughes to score the first try of the season. Courtesy of a colossal tackle from winger Suliasi Vunivalu, the Storm struck again just minutes later. After pouncing on Jack Bird’s loose carry, a scintillating run from centre Curtis Scott proved too much for the Broncos’ chasers and resulted in the Storm’s second try. Despite the boys from Melbourne dominating for the remainder of the first half, the Broncos remained resilient in defence and went into half time only trailing 10-0.
Strong metres from the Storm’s forwards and an immediate repeat set put the Broncos on the back foot in the opening exchanges of the second half. Quick ruck speed set the foundation for the Storm’s next try. A sharp short ball from Munster sent Kenneath Bromwich into a yawning gap, untouched as he scored under the posts (16-0, 49th minute). The Storm’s ill-discipline in the ruck provided the Broncos with the field position they required to get back in the contest. A left-hand shift in quick succession gave the Broncos an attacking advantage and saw winger Corey Oates monster his way to the try line (16-6, 59thminute), leaving Storm defenders Hughes and Curtis Scott in his wake. Off the back of a Storm error, Oates continued the Broncos’ fightback when he took advantage of a wayward pass and closed the gap to four points (16-12, 62nd minute). However, the class of the Storm was exemplified just five minutes later, when a terrific inside ball from Munster gave Jesse Bromwich the opportunity to both score and showcase his agility (22-12, 67th minute). Despite the Broncos looking threatening at the death, the Storm prevailed to clinch a 10 point victory.
Rejuvenated, resilient and ready to tackle 2019. That was the warning the Storm issued to the rest of the competition following their impressive victory on Thursday night. The absence of superstars Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman didn’t seem to faze Craig Bellamy’s young prodigies, who managed to stamp their authority by exhibiting glimpses of their own brilliance. The 87% completion rate, 1950 run metres and 91% tackle efficiency were telling statistics in the context of the match.
Broncos Gallant in Defeat
Despite eventually succumbing to the relentless pressure of the Storm, Broncos Tevita Pangai Junior (157 metres) and Matt Gillett (57 tackles) were tremendous in defeat. Winger Corey Oates was also instrumental in the Broncos’ fightback, contributing 223 running metres and two magnificent tries. Whilst their effort cannot be questioned, if they are to secure victory next week against the North Queensland Cowboys, the Broncos must improve their consistency over the 80 minute period.
First Round Success Continues
Since 2002, the Melbourne Storm have not been defeated in the first round of a season. This trend continued on Thursday night, in spectacular fashion. In a bid to keep their record intact, the Storm had to show why they were dubbed one of the premiership favourites before the season had even commenced.
Roberts’ Injury Woes
An awkward tackle just four minutes into the 2019 season placed Broncos enforcer James Roberts in a world of pain, grasping at his lower back. Limping his way off the field and requiring assistance down the tunnel was certainly not an encouraging sight for Broncos fans. When considering the strike power and influence Roberts can have on the Broncos’ attacking make-up, it is hoped that this reported disc injury does not sideline him for too long.
Melbourne Storm 22
Tries: Jahrome Hughes, Curtis Scott, Kenneath Bromwich, Jesse Bromwich
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Brisbane Broncos 12
Tries: Corey Oates 2
Goals: Jamayne Issaako 2
Melbourne Storm: 1 Jahrome Hughes, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Kenneath Bromwich, 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 16 Tui Kamikamica, 19 Tom Eisenhuth.
Brisbane Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd, 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Joe Ofahengaue, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su’A, 13 Matt Gillett. Interchange: 14 Kotoni Staggs, 15 David Fifita, 16 Thomas Flegler, 17 Tevita Pangai Junior.