A depleted Warriors side gave the Storm a scare, but it wasn’t enough as the Storm took advantage some poor plays from the gutsy Warriors outfit to sneak home with a 13-12 victory.
Before the match starting the Warriors had to juggle their playing 17 as skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Green and Solomone Kata were all ruled out of the contest.
This saw Peta Hiku move to fullback, Blake Ayshford and Patrick Herbert brought into the centres and Tohu Harris moving into the halves.
Despite the late changes, the Warriors were the first to score via a Chanel Harris-Tavita penalty, and then a few sets later Adam Blair crossed the line after clutching onto a clever Tohu pass, after Chanel’s conversion the Warriors found themselves 8-0 up at the ten-minute mark.
The Storm were their own worst enemies, giving away penalties and making unforced errors and it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that they managed to get themselves on the scoreboard when Cameron Munster scored off a tap back from his own kick, he was unable to convert his try to make the score 8-4.
Both sides traded sets with neither team gaining the upper hand, but the Storm continued to make uncharismatic errors.
The Warriors had one more scoring opportunity only for Blake Ayshford to knock on and send the Warriors into halftime with the scores still 8-4.
Craig Bellamy appeared as animated as ever in the changing sheds and whatever he said to his team worked as the Storm needed only three minutes to score their first points of the second half when Jahrome Hughes pounced on a Cameron Smith grubber and barged his way past Hiku and Ayshford to score.
Munster’s conversion gave the Storm a 10-8 lead for the first time in the match.
After a confusing double turnover, the Warriors took advantage with Hiku putting Kane Maumalo over to score with an excellent cut-out pass, Chanel missed the conversion, so the Warriors only had a 12-10 lead.
This appeared to wake the Storm up as they spent the majority of the rest of the game throwing everything they had at the Warriors, but the Warriors defence was arguably the best it has been all season as they rebuffed all attempts.
Time was running out for the home side, and with 5 minutes to go they were awarded a controversial penalty when it appeared that they had incorrectly played the ball, Munster slotted it to bring the scores level.
The Storm showed their class as they marched the length of the field on the very next set and Brodie Croft nailed the field goal to give the Storm the 1 point lead.
The Warriors had one last attempt to come away with the win but threw a forward pass to end the game in what was surprisingly close 13-12 win to the Storm.
Slow start hurts Storm
For the second week in a row, the Storm came out of the gates slow and found themselves in trouble once again. With the NRL as tight as it is, a good start is a key to building momentum and ultimately walking away with the victory. Round 8 sees the Storm face the Sharks and that is just the type of team that will punish the Storm if they don’t come out firing.
Bellamy needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to get his team’s starting tempo up as they will not be able to claw their way back into every match week in and week out.
Never Say Die
Despite being behind for the majority of the match and not playing at their best, the Storm kept themselves in the fight and just waited for their chance to strike back.
The Storm are renowned for their mental fortitude, and this is one of the reasons they are always in the playoff hunt regardless of losing some of their key players in recent seasons, their future will forever remain bright as long as their mindset stays the same.
The Warriors defence improved ten fold in this match, the late changes to the game day squad not only didn’t affect their defensive line but appeared to make it stronger. The Warriors managed to contain the Storms larger forwards and reduced second phase plays which has been a significant concern for the side in 2019.
The edges which have leaked plenty of points this season were well contained, and Patrick Herbert had a stellar debut and will be causing headaches for Stephen Kearney when his injured players return.
If the Warriors are to turn their season around, they will need to defend at this level consistently from here on out.
Warriors game I.Q. needs a makeover
The Warriors makeshift halves pairing played well for the majority of the match, but as the time was winding down, they made some poor plays which in the end may have cost them the game.
Chanel’s kick to the sideline with 7 minutes to go was the wrong option, in his defence, Cameron Smith got out of the marker position quickly to put that extra pressure on him, and he folded. He is young and has had to run this side for the past three weeks and shows potential but the Warriors need Blake Green back to bring some cohesion back to the Warriors attack.
This loss would have been a great learning experience for Chanel, and he will be all the better for it in the long run, expect big things from the young playmaker in the future.
Melbourne Storm 13
Tries: Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes
Goals: Cameron Munster 2/3
Field Goals: Brodie Croft 1/1
New Zealand Warriors 12
Tries: Adam Blair, Ken Maumalo
Goals: Chanel Harris-Tavita 2/3
Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 17. Marion Seve, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 15. Christian Welch, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 14. Brandon Smith, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 21. Ryan Papenhuyzen
Warriors: 3. Peta Hiku, 2. Gerard Beale, 22. Blake Ayshford, 21. Patrick Herbert, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 12. Tohu Harris, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 15. Isaiah Papali’i, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Jazz Tevaga, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Nathaniel Roache, 18. Hayze Perham