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Melbourne Storm celebrated winger Marcus Bai?s final game in Melbourne tonight with a 40-10 rout of the Manly Sea Eagles in the build up to next week?s NRL finals.
Melbourne also farewelled prop Mitchell Sargent who will join the Cowboys next season as the Storm totally outclassed Manly to finish the regular season in fifth place on the NRL ladder.
Bai ? who will join English Super League club Leeds at the end of the season ? commemorated his final appearance at Olympic Park by picking up a try as the home side enjoyed the perfect tune up before meeting either the Raiders or the Roosters Friday night.
While Manly struggled to remain competitive for 80 minutes ? fullback Albert Torrens was sent off in the opening ten minutes following a wild high shot on Billy Slater - the score line could have been a great deal more embarrassing had the Storm capitalised on several scoring opportunities.
Melbourne also looks to have unearthed another exciting youngster in outside back Matt King. In just his second first grade match and his first run-on appearance for the Storm King was brilliant having a hand in everything and scoring a spectacular first half try from a Matt Orford bomb.
But the night belonged to Bai and the Storm faithful made sure the PNG winger received a memorable send off in his 142nd match for Melbourne.
?It was good to go out with a win, I think that?s all I asked for,? Bai said.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy echoed the feelings of most: ?Marcus is what our game is all about he?s put in six great years here, he turns up every training session ready to train, he turns up every game ready to play, he competes right to the end and that?s what we try to build our team around.
?That?s the sort of player we want here and Marcus basically is what our club is about - he is what I?d like our club to be about,? Bellamy added.
And while the inaugural Storm premiership player?s season isn?t over yet, tonight?s match was the perfect opportunity to reflect on a career that has seen many highs already.
?My second year down here in Melbourne would be the highlight of my career,? Bai added.
?I?ve tried my best to play well week in and week out over the last five or six years for the club and the guys have worked really hard all week to send me off properly tonight.?
The 30-year-old was even handed the goal kicking duties along with Sargent late in the second half bringing the 10,000 strong crowd to its feet.
Following a try to five-eighth Matt Geyer ? who enjoyed another strong performance at pivot picking up a double ? Bai strolled up to the kicking tee and converted his first ever goal in first grade.
This feat was matched only by the goal from young front rower Sargent who converted from directly in front following a touchdown to Danny Williams.
Despite dropping plenty of ball and failing to fully capitalise on the opposition?s 12-man defence Bellamy rated his side?s performance as pleasing.
?When Torrens got sent off I thought we went into panic mode and tried to score off every set of six,? Bellamy said.
?Not many teams have come off the bye and played that great and while it as good for a couple of our injured players to have the week off I just thought it interrupted our momentum a bit so we?ll be a lot better for the run.?
First half tries to Fifita Moala, King and Geyer handed the Storm a 16-0 lead at the main break and further tries to Geyer, Bai, Steven Bell and Williams in the second term sealed the Sea Eagles? fate.
Manly scored two late consolation tries to Ben MacDougall and Scott Donald in the second half.
Peter Robinson left the field in the 64th minutes after re-injuring his right ankle and Glen Turner was sidelined with following a poke to his left eye. Both will be monitored this week before Friday night?s final.
STORM 40 Tries: Moala 1, King 1, Geyer 2, Bai 1, Bell 1 Goals: Orford 4/5, Bai 1/1, Sargent 1/1
MANLY 10 Tries: MacDougall 1, Donald 1 Goals: Ferris 1/1 For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]