The Melbourne Storm opened up their 2017 campaign with a gritty 12-6 win over Canterbury at Belmore last Friday night.
After jumping out to an early lead thanks to tries to Cheyse Blair and Suliasi Vinuvalu the Storm hung onto a 12-6 lead for the final 50 minutes, as Sydney was bucketed with rain.
My takeaways from the game were:
6pm Friday night is the worst timeslot possible: the first 6pm Friday night game was far from a success either in terms of crowd numbers and TV ratings.
Not sure who in the NRL came up with the idea of replacing the Monday night game with a Friday 6pm game, but it surely won’t last long.
Never pick against the Storm in Round 1: all signs pointed to a loss at Belmore, a place they have not done well in the past and against a team they have struggled against in recent meetings, missing some key players including Billy Slater and Tohu Harris, plus a trial loss to the Bulldogs just two weeks earlier.
But this team has never lost in Round 1 under Craig Bellamy and that proved to be the case once again. This time it was
Josh Addo-Carr will be a sensation in Melbourne: the former Tiger had a sensational start to his Storm career, running for 202 meters in thirteen run.
His linebreak to set up the Blair try was electifying. The Tigers have proven to be a good breeding ground for Storm wingers.
Jesse only out 2-3 weeks thankfully: what made the win even more significant for the Storm was that they did it without their best forward Jesse Bromwich for 70 minutes. Bromwich disclocated a thumb early in the game and was not able to return. Thankfully he is only expected to be out for 2-3 weeks.
In his abscence, Jordan McLean, Tim Glasby and Christian Welch did a great job of rotating through the front row, especially when conditions were tough in the second half.
Defence wins yet again: the best defence in the competition did it again, keeping the Bulldogs to just six points. The Bulldogs had multiple sets in the last ten minutes and were unable to penetrate the line, taking poor kicking options on two occasions instead of trying to score out wide.
Tough decisions ahead for Bellamy: with the impending return of Slater, coach Bellamy has some tough decisions to make. Cameron Munster’s best position in clearly fullback, where he played on Friday. Rookie Ryley Jacks did a serviceable job at five-eighth.
Slater could be forced to return from the bench, where he could be the key to a premiership win as he can cover all the backline positions if needed and hooker as well.
What’s next: another 6pm Friday night game, this time in Auckland against the Warriors, who only just got over the line at home against the Knights on Sunday.
A replacement will be needed for Jesse Bromwich, but Will Chambers, Cheyse Blair and Cameron Munster are all free to play after they were charged by the judiciary.