A massive crowd turned up at the Adelaide Oval and they would walk away far from disappointed. It was a contest that opitomised everything that is great about rugby league; fast, skillful, tough and thrilling. It is probably safe to say the game gained plenty of new fans after Saturday night.
That’s right, one game shy of 1,000 games was the level of experience Storm were giving up against their opponents on Saturday night. 50 games was the average number played by Melbourne compared with 109 from their Roosters’ counterparts. That difference was always going to count for something and unfortunately late in the game, in the clutch moments, that was when it began to show. The youngsters will be better for the experience with every minute they are out there shaping as an invaluable learning curve.
When you run for that many metres you know you have played a stellar first game for the Club. Wearing the purple jersey for the first time, Jahrome Hughes looked more than comfortable at fullback. Playing the third game of his career, for his third NRL team, Hughes was outstanding throughout the night. He had three line breaks to go with his metres as well as an impressive second half try that saw him slice through the Roosters’ goal line defence. Last week we saw Brodie Croft, Brandon Smith and Curtis Scott arrive, you can now add Hughes into our batch of exciting talent for the future.
The final 10 minutes of normal time was eerily similar to the Cowboys game the previous week. Just as it seemed Storm had victory in sight they appeared to lose their way as the opposition came at them in a big way down the stretch. The youngsters were unable to repeat their golden point heroics of last week but with an average age of just 22, you can bet that experience in those closing stages will serve them well for the remainder of their careers.
To come up with that many try saving tackles is a great indicator of this young team’s attitude towards defence. While they will be filthy to leak three tries in the final 20 minutes, the fact is that they kept a team with finals, Grand Final and Origin experience to just one try in an hour of football. They also missed 24 fewer tackles than their opponents. Defence has always been a cornerstone of the Storm game and it appears Craig Bellamy has instilled that same logic in this next generation.