Storm too good for Cowboys

Melbourne Storm?s National Rugby League campaign continued to gain momentum at Olympic Park tonight following a tough 28-6 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys.

Despite not reaching the lofty heights of last week?s comprehensive victory over the Rabbitohs, the Storm showed that it can still win matches even when performing below its best.

Melbourne?s third win of the year was built on its defence, which, despite looking somewhat vulnerable at the start of the season, conceded just one try for the second consecutive week.

Stand-in head coach Peter Sharp was pleased with his troops? ability to grind out a victory that wasn?t necessarily pretty but involved plenty of enthusiasm.

?It was pretty professional in the fact that I don?t think we were on the job tonight, especially with the football,? Sharp said.

?Defensively we were very sound but we were a bit off the pace with the footy, we ground out in the end quite a good victory which is very pleasing.

?We lacked a bit of shape and awareness around the footy all night, I don?t know what that was because last week we were quite good in the fact that we were good around our two halves and around our dummy half.

?It?s an indication that it?s a pretty reasonable footy side that can do that ? you can turn up and not be on the pace and a bit off the money and grind out a good victory. That aspect was terrific.

?When you get scored against you need to respond and we responded in the best fashion by scoring, so that was great as well,? Sharp added.

The Storm scored five tries in what was a rugged performance, which saw the return of key outside backs Ben MacDougall and Matt Geyer from injury.

MacDougall (hamstring) and Geyer (knee) put their injury woes behind them to feature amongst the Storm?s best players.

Club veteran Geyer scored a remarkable try when he touched down following Cowboys winger Ty Williams? efforts to avert a 40-20 attempt from Storm halfback Matt Orford.

Geyer ran 60 metres to dive on a loose ball, which Williams had desperately kept in play by slapping back into his own goal area only seconds earlier.

Geyer swooped on the ball to claim a bizarre try, which in effect summed up the Cowboys? night.

MacDougall, on the other hand, made his mark in defence.

It was the 34th minute when he pulled off one of the biggest hits of the season on North Queensland second-rower Glenn Morrison.

MacDougall?s tackle brought the crowd to its feet and earned plenty of enthusiastic backslapping from his teammates.

It only took three minutes for the Storm to post first points. A beautiful cutout ball from five-eighth Scott Hill allowed centre Steven Bell to slice through the Cowboys? defence untouched.

The 15th minute saw Melbourne forward David Kidwell go toe-to-toe with Cowboys hardman Kevin Campion. Kidwell had the last laugh though when the Storm was awarded a penalty and his teammate Dallas Johnson pivoted, and then darted through the defence in the next set of six, to score a soft try under the posts. Cameron Smith?s conversion put the Storm up 10-0.

New Zealander Kidwell had another standout game which was seemingly unaffected by his Test performance against Australia in Newcastle last night. It was a big weekend for Kidwell, who played his 100th NRL game against North Queensland as well as celebrating his 27th birthday yesterday.

Geyer?s try was the last in a workman-like first half for the Storm.

It was the 65th minute when the Cowboys finally got on the scoreboard. A bomb from halfback Nathan Fien saw centre Josh Hannay fly high and come down with the ball to score. Hannay converted his own try.

But the Storm hit straight back through fullback Billy Slater. Quick hands through the backline, including a superb one-arm offload from prop Kirk Reynoldson, allowed Slater to put the game out of the Cowboys? grasp.

Slater then backed up the effort by pulling off a try-saving tackle on his opposite Matt Bowen, to prevent yet another Cowboys try. The Cowboys finished the night with three tries disallowed by video referee Mick Stone.

With only minutes remaining the Storm added to the Queenslanders? pain when Reynoldson crashed over following a strong bust by Orford. Orford then converted to give his team a commanding 28-6 victory.

Prop Alex Chan will have another nervous wait this week after referee Jason Robinson placed the former Parramatta front-rower on report for a high tackle on the Cowboys? Michael Luck in the second half.

DETAILS STORM 28 Tries: Bell 1, Johnson 1, Geyer 1, Slater 1, Reynoldson 1 Goals: Smith 3/5, Orford 1/1

COWBOYS 6 Tries: Hannay 1 Goals: Hannay 1/1