The Melbourne Storm easily handled the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this Saturday afternoon on the Sunshine Coast, recording a 41-10 victory despite plenty of outs for the home side.
Already missing Cameron Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Dale Finucane, the Storm were still able to prove that they possess one of the strongest squads in the NRL. Heading into the clash the Bulldogs would've been expecting a much better performance than the one they dished up today. The away side looked promising in the first few sets of the match and in fact had the first chance for points with a penalty goal from right in front. The penalty shot itself sums up the way the rest of the match went for the Bulldogs with young centre Jake Averillo spraying the kick left of the uprights. This was the closest the Bulldogs would get to possessing any sort of lead.
The Storm didn't start as well as they would've liked giving the Bulldogs good field position through multiple penalties. In the ninth minute the Bulldogs shifted the ball right and a long cutout pass from Lachlan Lewis was intercepted by Josh Addo-Carr who sprinted 90 metres to score untouched under the posts. Enter, the onslaught. Three minutes passed before the Storm added to their tally, this time it was a maiden NRL try for Nicho Hynes as Munster exploited an overlap on the left edge.
Two minutes had surpassed before yet another Storm try. This time with Justin Olam who found himself in acres of space on the half way line. He squared Nick Meaney up and tried to beat him on the outside and did so successfully albeit a decent effort from Meaney as Olam carried him over to put it down in the left corner. The Storm, were tearing the Bulldogs right edge apart and it was the 23rd minute when they'd strike there again, this time with a standard crash ball for Kenneath Bromwich who found his way through the defence to score the Storm's fourth try in just 14 minutes.
The Bulldogs would finally get some joy, coming in the 29th minute with Tim Lafai scoring his first try since the resumption of his NRL career, as Kieran Foran exploited an overlap on the left edge with a loopy cut out ball. Plenty of errors from the Storm over the course of the next 10 minutes which kept them from blowing out the score, but the away side failed to make the most of these opportunities. A penalty from Josh Jackson late in the opening term gave the Storm great field position and just when you thought they were going to go back to the Bulldogs right-edge defence, Munster decided to stab a field goal over from 10 metres in-front to send the Storm into the break leading by 19 points.
The second half started the best way possible for the Bulldogs, with a brilliant try from Reimis Smith as he channelled his inner AFL ability, leaping over Munster to take a great catch to bring the Bulldogs within 13 points. However, any hope of a potential comeback was erased when Lachlan Lewis was sent to the sin-bin for a high shot on Munster. The Storm were licking their lips with the one man advantage, but just minutes later, Munster was involved in a tackle in which Josh Jackson fell onto his leg leaving the five-eighth in pain on the ground. He was taken from the field and didn't return to the field of play. A big loss for the Storm. However, there was still a game to be played and just minutes later Suliasi Vunivalu pounced on a poor pass from Jackson which found the grass with the winger kicking it on and regathering the footy as he ran 70 metres untouched to score his first of the afternoon.
The shocking afternoon continued for the Bulldogs after giving away an obstruction penalty on 5th tackle which invited the Storm in for yet another try and it was second rower Kenny Bromwich who made the most of the opportunity after he was put over the try line thanks to a nice bit of play from Ryley Jacks. To sum up the Bulldogs afternoon, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak sent the following kick-off out on the full. The remainder of the game went a bit wayward with plenty of errors but in the final minute of the match Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes put a long kick in over Nick Meaney's head which saw speedster Addo-Carr sprint through, kneeing the football on and regathering, scoring with the final play of the game to take his side's points tally over the 40 mark.
A depleted Storm came away with a convincing victory, although the loss of Munster will hurt Bellamy's side as they now prepare for the Sydney Roosters next week. The Bulldogs have a lot to think about during the week after a dreadful defensive effort. They'll take on the Wests Tigers next week, a side in which they conceded over 30 points to in their earlier matchup this season.