The numbers that had our heads spinning after Friday night’s win!
Storm fans were given a bright glimpse of the future on Friday night with Brandon Smith becoming the 182nd player to represent the Melbourne Storm. Smith only turned 21 on Wednesday but in his NRL debut it appeared as though he had been playing first grade for years. To top it off, his try in the 62nd minute was something staggering. The youngster took the ball from dummy half and dragged three opponents with him over the line to score.
That is how many minutes it took for Storm to make a tackle inside their own 20. It is a staggering stat and a testament to how relentless the side’s defence was all over the field. Friday night proved how important a rock solid defence can be in allowing a side to flex their attacking muscle.
A great defence leads to brilliant offence. Melbourne ran in their biggest score of the season so far, scoring seven tries including five in the second half. A lot of that is thanks to a 60-40 possession count and 85 per cent completion rate. The men in purple completed 12 more sets than their opponents and with an attacking back three of Billy Slater, Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr it was always going to be a nightmare for the Newcastle defence.
You wouldn’t have known it but 48 hours earlier Cooper Cronk was playing in a State of Origin game. The stand-in Storm skipper shrugged off his soreness to once again showcase his mercurial ability, producing four try assists on the night. It is beggars belief how on earth he and Will Chambers were able to not only back up but perform at the level they did for their Club. Regardless of how they did it, Storm fans are sure happy they did.
Hopefully Queensland selectors were watching this game. If Billy Slater was banging on the Maroons door before Origin I, his performance against Newcastle would have just about ripped the door off its hinges. Slater was at his creative best, buzzing around the attacking line to provide two try assists in the first half before running in a double of his own in the second. He also finished with 163 metres for good measure. A phone call from those up north could well be coming his way in the next few weeks.