It was not the result the Storm faithful were after but there is no taking away from the incredible milestone chalked up by their fullback. Billy Slater became the 31st member of the NRL’s 300-Club on Saturday night. In true Slater fashion he did everything in his power to get his side over the line, running hard all night and laying off the assist for Storm’s only try of the game with a trademark bullet pass to Suliasi Vunivalu. The champion fullback was chaired off by great mates Cameron Smith and Ryan Hoffman as he took another step closer to rugby league immortality.
The other milestone on the night saw Kenny Bromwich play his 100th game in the NRL. It was a fitting reward for a player who has worked so hard to entrench himself in Craig Bellamy’s line up. History was also created with Bromwich boys Kenny and Jesse becoming the first set of brothers to make 100 appearances in the purple jersey.
That is the combined number of missed or ineffective tackles committed by the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night. While only ten points were conceded, for a team that prides itself on defence to fall short in the tackle stat would burn deeply. The one dose of good news is that Storm do not have to wait long to make amends given they will be back at AAMI Park to take on the Cowboys in just five days time.
To have that many offloads in 80 minutes clearly signalled the intent of Wests Tigers. They were prepared to throw the ball around at every opportunity and to their credit, it paid dividends. It may not have resulted in a bucket of points but it caused the Storm defence to second guess at times, forcing them to miss tackles and often scramble. If they can continue to combine strong ball playing ability with an immovable defence the Tigers are going to be one to watch in 2018.
It is unusual to see the error count that high for Melbourne. You could but it down to two factors; 1) A resolute Tiger defence and 2) the Storm attack not quite being on the same page at times. The by-product of this stat was that Storm produced just the one line break, well short of their usual standards.