The Melbourne Storm triumphed over the Parramatta Eels at Docklands in a comprehensive 46-16 win, spearheaded by an exceptional performance from Harry Grant. Coupled with an earlier victory by the Rabbitohs, in which Alex Johnston scored three tries, this match further diminished Parramatta’s chances of making the National Rugby League (NRL) finals.
Displaying a sluggish start, Melbourne soon shifted into high gear, marking 25 years in the NRL with an impressive offensive display that secured their position in the top four. A shaky defence from the Storm allowed Sean Russell of the Eels to draw first blood with a try in the corner. However, Grant promptly responded with two expertly crafted tries. Before the Eels could recover from this blow, they faced a 14-point deficit in the home crowd-filled Melbourne stadium, with over 20,429 attending the game.
Despite marking coach Brad Arthur‘s 250th game, Parramatta lagged behind their opponents. The Storm began the night showcasing their six premiership trophies, including the two stripped titles from 2007 and 2009 due to salary cap violations. A reminder of their 2009 final against Parramatta, won by the Storm, ignited considerable fervour amongst travelling fans of the Eels.
Approaching halftime, Parramatta’s J’maine Hopgood did manage to respond with a try, but the Storm held a firm lead of 24-10. The Melbourne side didn’t let up, opening the second half with further tries from forward Josh King and centre Marion Seve, effectively sealing their win with a commanding 26-point lead.
Following that, Jahrome Hughes, Cameron Munster and Eliesa Katoa each scored for the Storm. Though Parramatta tried to stage a late comeback, their top-eight hopes had already taken a significant hit. The Eels will next face St George-Illawarra, with further matches against potential premiership winners Penrith and Brisbane looming in the final month of the regular season.
Moving away from the Storm‘s victory to the Rabbitoh’s game, Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell were key performers in South Sydney‘s 32-18 victory over Wests Tigers. Johnston’s three tries and one assist, along with Mitchell’s effective return from an injury break, propelled the Rabbitohs into the top eight and further troubled the Tigers‘ tumultuous season.
Despite facing resistance from the Tigers, who clawed back a 14-point deficit, late tries from Johnston and captain Cameron Murray confirmed a crucial win for South Sydney. Of note was the comeback of top player Mitchell, after two months nursing a calf injury.
Praising Mitchell’s impact, the Rabbitoh’s coach, Jason Demetriou, stated, “He’s one of the best players in the game for a reason. We saw glimpses of that tonight and the most exciting part is he’s probably going to keep getting better.”
Johnston, however, was the standout performer, breaking competition records with his 51st multiple-try game, surpassing Ken Irvine’s record. With games against Cronulla, St George Illawarra and Newcastle in the upcoming weeks, the Rabbitoh’s pursuit of a top-four finish remains unabated.
The Tigers did show signs of improvement despite this being their eighth consecutive defeat. Johnston’s first try, as well as an impressive performance from captain Api Koroisau, provided glimmers of resistance against the Rabbitohs‘ formidable attack. However, according to Tigers‘ coach Tim Sheens, mistakes in the beginning of match cost his side the game. He noted, “We were giving too much footy away. We’re not a team good enough to afford that.”