Following their defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Knights the previous week, Melbourne Storm‘s coach, Craig Bellamy, posed a question on the extent of his team’s grit and resilience. On Friday night at Marvel Stadium before an audience of 20,429 supporters and a slew of Storm‘s past players, Bellamy’s strategic drivers illustrated that they had the capacity for intense tenacity. In an authoritative fashion, they overpowered Parramatta Eels with a scoreline of 46-16. The triumphant game saw a stellar performance from halfback Jahrome Hughes, hooker Harry Grant, and five-eighth Cameron Munster as they dominated the defence of the hapless visiting team.
The Storm still faces a conundrum on the defensive end and they carry a forward pack that lacks experience in key matches. However, they’ve proven their offensive prowess is on par with the best, even more distinct when Hughes is in top form. This victory moves them closer to securing a top-four slot.
New Zealand’s Hughes, displaying commendable form, contributed a try and four assists, while Grant added a couple to his tally and incessantly kept the Storm‘s offensive charge on the front foot. Munster’s flair for scoring was highlighted when he soloed a try in the second half, a feat worthy of being among the best in this season.
Storm greats including Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, and Marcus Bai made an appearance on-field during the pregame, honouring the club’s 25th anniversary by parading six premiership trophies. Notably, these included the renowned 2007 and 2009 titles, which were expunged from the NRL record following the 2010 salary cap scandal.
A display of defiance was seen from both sides’ players, as they covered the NRL logo on their jerseys with tape. This unusual act was indicative of the ongoing industrial relations dispute with the league.
The kick-off saw the Storm faltering in the early minutes. They went down early after Eels winger, Sean Russell, scored a try just four minutes into the game. The Storm quickly recovered with Grant bulldozing his way to the first of his two tries in the 11th and 22nd minute.
Defensive frails were exposed as Eliesa Katoa burst between two defenders to register a 24-10 advantage just shy of half-time. Hughes orchestrated another try 47 minutes in an exquisite inside pass to Josh King.
A significant contribution from Hughes at the defence was his interception in stopping a try from winger Waqa Blake. Hughes, however, paid the price by getting winded from the powerful clash. With yet another assist, Marion Seve made his mark on the score sheet before the 60-minute mark.
Munster, who was having a low-profile game, showcased his sheer class with only 11 minutes left on the clock. He successfully fended off six Eels defenders single-handedly, charging over the line for a thrilling score. The game was later closed out in style by Storm winger Will Warbrick who scored a diving try.
The question of whether this year’s Storm are genuine premiership contenders remains unanswered, but for the viewers, it promises to be an exhilarating journey witnessing their attempt.