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A spectacular hat-trick to centre Matt King has steered the Storm to a 42-6 thrashing of the New Zealand Warriors as Melbourne celebrated a night of milestones at Olympic Park tonight.
King?s treble capped off a stunning return to first-grade after injuring his elbow in the City/Country Origin match seven weeks ago as prop Robbie Kearns (250 NRL games) and winger Matt Geyer (150 NRL games) celebrated milestones in style.
The win also saw the Storm reclaim the Michael Moore Trophy in their second biggest win of the season.
Storm and Queensland State of Origin star Billy Slater maintained his superb form from last week?s Origin heroics, scoring one of the tries of the season in a second half spell that saw the Storm pile on 24 unanswered points.
A late inclusion in the Storm line-up, King repaid coach Craig Bellamy?s confidence in him with a number of penetrating runs on top of his three tries. Making King?s return all the more amazing was the fact that the 23-year-old only resumed full training last Monday.
?He was a bit of a dusty proposal all week I suppose,? Bellamy said.
?But I think that try in the second half ? that was the turning point of the game, that was the big play of the night I thought.?
Geyer had double cause for celebration as he equalled Marcus Bai?s record for the most games played for the Storm (144).
?That is what makes this club so great,? Bellamy added.
?Whenever there is a milestone everyone lifts a cog. To have two milestones like that in one club is unique.?
Fittingly it was Geyer who helped put the Storm?s first points on the board.
Halfback Matt Orford kicked a 20-metre pinpoint cross-field pass into the waiting arms of the former NSW winger who managed to flip a one handed ball back to David Kidwell who crossed untouched.
Two minutes later centre Steven Bell brushed off some soft Warriors? defence to put the Storm into a 10-0 lead.
Orford?s midweek re-signing was vindicated yet again when he threw a beautiful cutout ball to the flying King who scored in the corner.
Minutes later it was Orford again who kept the Storm on the move, a grubber kick rebounding off the boots of a Warriors defender before landing in the halfback?s arms allowing him to offload to centre Ben MacDougall who then put King through for his second try.
With the Storm unleashing another wave of pressure in the shadows of half time, the Warriors managed to rebound through former Storm centre Tony Martin who collected a loose ball before scampering 80 metres to score, making it 18-6 at the break.
King added his third try 16 minutes into the second half to break the game wide open before MacDougall joined in on the action when he scored following a sneaky offload from a prop Alex Chan.
But it was the blistering pace of Slater that brought the crowd to its feet, the dazzling fullback running 90 minutes - bamboozling the Warriors? defence on the way - to close out the match.
MacDougall snatched his second in the dying minutes of the match following some strong lead-up work from Chan and Dallas Johnson.
STORM 42 Tries: Kidwell 1, Bell 1, King 3, MacDougall 2, Slater 1 Goals: Orford 4/7, Cooper 1/1
WARRIORS 6 Tries: Martin 1 Goals: Hohaia 1/1 For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]