Stats that Matter - Round 6
The Storm forward pack ate up the metres at will through the middle. Towards the end of each half Melbourne had a clear plan to attack the tired Newcastle defence through the centre of the field and it paid dividends. Jesse Bromwich was simply brilliant while Nelson Asofa-Solomona continues his rapid rise as an emerging star with a game-high 150 metres. To put the cherry on the purple cake, Sam Kasiano burst through with five minutes to play for his first try as a Storm player with every teammate getting over to the new recruit to celebrate.
Rather than focus on the 40 points Melbourne scored, let’s look at the reason they got there – ball control. Two words that have plagued this team in the opening five rounds as every set seemed to bring with it the daunting inevitability of an error. On Friday night, the reigning premiers got their attacking mojo back. Melbourne burst out of the blocks to complete their first 16 sets of the game and put on 18 points in the blink of an eye. If that completion rate can stay in the 80 per cent range and the error count stay low (8 v Knights), this side is always going to be hard to beat.
The entire rugby league world was waiting to see how Melbourne Storm would respond after back-to-back defeats – it would take only 70 seconds for them to have their answer. On their very first possession the men in purple were on a mission, charging up the field and before the Knights knew what hit them Billy Slater hit Josh Addo-Carr out wide and Melbourne were on their way.
What an incredible opening 20 minutes of rugby league it was from the home side. 18 points were scored on the back of 80 per cent possession that forced the Knights into making 72 more tackles in that opening period. It was by far and away the best patch of play this team has put together in 2018, which glimpses to the scintillating Storm that lit up the competition week in and week out last year. In a week when they faced a mountain of questions, that opening 20 minutes was the perfect answer.