All the key stats following a fiery contest at AAMI Park against Cronulla.
The loss of star prop Jesse Bromwich before the game was always going to hurt Melbourne and the Sharks rightly capitalised. Their starting forward back ran for 655 metres on the day, Paul Gallen leading the way with 204m. In a promising sign for Storm though, Jordan McLean capped his return from injury with 90 metres and 35 tackles in 48 minutes of playing time. Hopefully back to full strength soon, this Storm pack will be desperate to return serve when these two teams lock horns again in Round 14.
That is how many minutes it took for the first line break of the game to occur. It came via an unlikely source, Tim Glasby slicing through the Sharks line that appeared to be watching every other play in purple except him. Both sides’ inability to break the other’s line for much of the game typified the kind of game this was. Tough, hard, relentless by two teams that pride themselves on a defence-first approach.
Felise Kaufusi notched half a century of tackles against the Sharks. That is a testament to how hard this young player is working in 2017. He has been given an opportunity by Craig Bellamy to play 80 minutes in the second row each and every week and is making the most of it. As well as making those 50 tackles, Kaufusi did not miss one, suggesting that Storm could have found another rock solid No.11 on that right edge.
Who kicks 40-20s when you can kick 30-10s? Cooper Cronk produced one of the best kicks you will ever see in the first half. In fact it was from his own 30 and finished trickling into touch 10m out from the Sharks line. That mercurial play eventually led to Storm taking a 2-nil lead. If you have not seen a replay yet, we suggest you check it out!
Both Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith rued the team’s inability to look after the football after the match. Melbourne’s error count finally caught up with them on Sunday after avoiding punishment in the opening five weeks. Storm are averaging just over 12 errors per game this season. While that is not a disaster by NRL standards it is well below what the men in purple expect of themselves. After all, this is a team that has prided itself on holding onto the football having committed the fewest errors in the competition in two of the past three seasons.