Shannon Meyer reviews yet another win for Melbourne over the Rabbitohs and a slice of history as Josh Addo-Carr scored six tries himself for the Storm.
Tries: Josh Addo-Carr (11, 22, 26, 39, 66, 71), Jahrome Hughes (30), Brandon Smith (46), George Jennings (49, 57)
Goals: Cameron Munster (23, 31 , 40 , 48 , 68)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
2 pts – Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne Storm)
1 pt – Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Welcome to the NRL’s most lop-sided fixture. Since 1998 Melbourne have won 85% of their games against the Rabbitohs, so history and statistics were against them, but could the in-form South Sydney team increase their 15% on a Thursday night in front of a small crowd?
The point of interest on-field leading into kick-off was the selection of Dean Hawkins, which shifted Cody Walker back to fullback. A cynic could say it was a rehearsal for a post-Reynolds Souths.
Souths provided the first piece of excitement five minutes into the first half when Alex Johnston crossed in the left corner after sharp work from Hawkins and Cody Walker, but the try was disallowed.
Melbourne were quick to punish them. A left side play looked to have broken down when Jesse Bromwich found himself almost wrapped up by the Rabbitohs’ defence’ but the ball found its way to Justin Olam who provided the perfect grubber to the left corner and a speedy Josh Addo-Carr was fastest and secured the first try of the night. Although the put down was questionable and booed by the crowd. This was followed by a cheer after Cameron Munster’s underwhelming first conversion. After 12 minutes it was Melbourne up 4-0, and the Storm were on their way.
A slice of luck went Souths’ way from the kick-off when Christian Welch fumbled a wobbly kick-off in the in-goal. They worked that into a repeat set after a solid kick from Hawkins. The Rabbitohs tried hard but no points were forthcoming. But Walker was really getting into the game.
Souths’ promising yet unrewarded attacks were punished in the 24th minute when Nicho Hynes burst down the left and slipped through the Souths defense, ran 30 metres and easily drew the fullback and found Addo-Carr on the inside who slid from about two metres out with the wet ground to score his and the Storm’s second try of the night. A better kick from Cameron Munster made it 10-0.
Not long after Addo-Carr had a hat-trick after a burst and half break down the short left side by Munster was followed by an inside pass to the lively hooker Harry Grant who ran 30 metres; when that run was coming to an end 10 metres from the line who else but the Fox was waiting in support to score in the corner? Three tries before half time to Addo-Carr and the 85% looked like it was going to increase.
Before you could savour the hat-trick replays Melbourne were in again. This time a one-on-one strip by Munster on the halfway line on Damian Cook was key; as he rolled out of that exchange he went right and found a flying Jahrome Hughes who broke through the Souths line to run all the way and score under the posts. With 10 minutes left in the first half the easy conversion from Munster made it 20-0.Embed from Getty Images
Not content with three tries, Addo-Carr made it four tries just before half-time as a stock standard Melbourne left side move ended with another poor defensive effort by Souths; a charging Dane Gagai left a huge gap for Addo-Carr to do what he does/was doing best. Not for the first time this season a Storm player had scored four tries before half-time. And not for the first time since 1998, Souths looked no hope of beating Melbourne. Half-time seemed almost like a mercy.
South Sydney hadn’t played that badly in the first half, but the Storm just had way too much class, and their big time players stepped up and were having a field day down the left.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 0 Melbourne Storm 26Embed from Getty Images
Given the historic edge the Storm had over the Rabbitohs, it seemed the second half would be a matter of how many Souths would lose by. Needless to say they needed to score first in the second half. They came close in the 45th minute, and Brandon Smith was put on report for a late hit on Cook in the process but the next set broke down.
Souths didn’t score the first second half try as Melbourne extended their lead in the 46th minute when Brandon Smith charged from dummy half 10 metres out and needed only to barge through Cook to score easily for the Storm; they were in good position after a great offload from Nelson Asofa-Solomona found Grant who charged 30 metres up the middle. The conversion made it 32-0 and the Storm were looking good to make 50 points and beyond.
They were on their way within minutes as the other Storm winger George Jennings got into the try scoring action after some quick dummy-half work from Grant was followed by the perfect cut out pass from Hughes which landed on Jennings’ chest and he was untouched for his 10 metre stroll to the line. Just under 30 minutes to go and it was 36-0.Embed from Getty Images
It was starting to get embarrassing for Souths in the 57th minute as Jennings grabbed his second try of the night. It was almost a carbon copy of his previous try as Grant dummied left 10 metres out, went right, and found Hughes who threw another perfect pass to Jennings: he had to work a little harder to score this time by diving untouched in the corner. This was after the Storm were gifted ball and territory as Walker spilled a regulation fifth tackle kick. He was probably tired from carrying the Souths attack.
A few mistakes were creeping into the game as both teams starting to tire, but they were more regular for the Rabbitohs as Souths were looking increasingly likely to end the game on the same amount of points they started with.
A slice of history came in the 66th minute as Addo-Carr became the first Storm player to score five tries after they merely went through the hands to the left with Grant to Munster to Justin Olam and a sharp (possibly forward) final pass found Addo-Carr with as much room as he needed from 10 metres out in the form he was in. For added salt, Munster nailed the sideline conversion for 46-0.Embed from Getty Images
In the 71st minute, Addo-Carr then became the first player to score six tries in seven decades as the Storm brought up 50 points in the same relentless style that they had been doing all night. Once again the final pass was thrown by his left side partner-in-crime Olam, but this time the key pass was a sharp cut-out pass from Hynes to Olam.
Anyone thinking a Cameron Smith-less Melbourne weren’t going to be as strong a contender this season should be left with very little doubt after they destroyed a fellow top four side away from home. For Souths it could be seen as blip against a team they rarely beat anyway. The worry is if they make it to finals football they’ll probably have to meet Melbourne at some stage, and their season will likely end there. They were quite poor in the second half.
With only a 3-2-1 available to highlight the best players on the night, it would be remiss not to mention the excellent dummy half work from Grant, who was the spark of a lot of the second half scoring. The underrated Olam was excellent and as hard as ever in attack and defence and set up a lot of Addo-Carr’s many tries. And Hynes filled in admirably as he always does when given the chance at fullback. Credit also goes to the platform laid by the Storm forwards.
The only question remains is if Craig Bellamy could afford himself a smile.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney 0 Melbourne Storm 50
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Brandon Smith (Storm) – Grade 1 Shoulder Charge – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 2 match ban
Felise Kaufusi (Storm) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Neck/Head – Early Guilty Plea $1700, Guilty at Judiciary $2250