The Melbourne Storm clocked up their 17th consecutive round one victory on Sunday afternoon at Lottoland against a gallant Manly Sea Eagles (18 – 4).
Big shots, penalties and errors were a plenty in the opening exchanges. The Storm made use of the slippery surface to yield a penalty in the sixth minute, and resultantly slotted the first points of the clash (2-0). The attacking and defensive calibre was evident in the following 30 minute period, with monster tackles and blinding speed dazzling the 10,315 maroon and white faithful. Manly’s ruck speed was enough to secure back-to-back penalty goals just shy of half-time, and send them into the break with a two point lead over their long-standing Melbourne rivals (4-2).
Manly’s goal line defence was put through a rigorous test by the rampaging Storm immediately following half-time, and successfully held up until Storm’s halfback Jahrome Hughes poised a cross-field kick perfectly for a surging Suliasi Vunivalu in the 60th minute (8-4). It was déjà vu just three minutes later when Vunivalu pounced on another deft kick from his halfback. A perfectly executed sideline conversion from captain Cameron Smith put the Storm ahead by 10 with a less than a quarter of the game remaining (14-4). Despite Manly’s efforts to reduce the deficit, a late try to Tom Eisenhuth courtesy of a Smith grubber special sealed it for Craig Bellamy’s men (18-4).
Storm’s strike continues
This impressive victory extends a phenomenal streak that now spans 17 seasons. A wonderful testament to their preseason work ethic and discipline, not since 2001 has the Storm lost in the opening week. Considering the calibre of their opposition year after year, this is a fantastic record that will likely never be broken.
Goal line defence almost enough to weather Storm
With only two points the difference for the better part of an hour, Manly were on song and well in control of the Storm’s attack. Brutal tackles and desperation were on display set after set, though none more impressive than Jorge Taufua’s pearler hit on Storm centre Marion Seve. The fact that the Storm’s three tries stemmed from off-the-cuff kicks puts Manly in good stead for 2020.
The Storm’s big men proved to be worth more than their weight in gold during this highly contested clash. Forwards Tui Kamikamica and Jesse Bromwich laid an excellent platform for their talented backline, running for 194 and 184 metres respectively. In a hard-fought victory, Manly were just unable to contain the brut of the pair of props.
Bellamy clocks 450
Along with another tally to the Storm’s round one fixture success, this victory marked 450 games for coach Craig Bellamy. When considering the widespread success the Storm have had over the last decade, this is a wonderful achievement which speaks volumes about his durability and passion for the game.
Manly Sea Eagles 4
Goals: Rueben Garrick 2
Melbourne Storm 18
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Tom Eisenhuth
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Manly Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Brad Parker, 4 Moses Suli, 5 Rueben Garrick, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans, 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Curtis Sironen, 13 Jake Trbojevic, 14 Lachlan Croker, 15 Sean Keppie, 16 Morgan Boyle, 17 Haumole Olakau’atu.
Melbourne Storm: 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Marion Seve, 4 Justin Olam, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Jahrome Hughes, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Tui Kamikamica, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Kenneath Bromwich, 13 Dale Finucane, 15 Tino Faasuamaleaui, 16 Max King, 17 Tom Eisenhuth, 18 Nelson Asofa-Solomona.