The return of superstar playmaker Cameron Munster sparked the Storm to a 24-12 win over Wests Tigers at AAMI Park on Friday night.
After shock losses to the Bulldogs and Titans in Munster's absence, Craig Bellamy's men got back on track with a disciplined first half that laid the platform for their first home win since Round 21 last year.
An offside penalty against the Tigers gave Melbourne the chance to open the scoring in the sixth minute through a Nick Meaney penalty goal.
On the back of a six-again call the Storm worked their way downfield and a couple of handy offloads by Josh King and Jonah Pezet opened the door for Will Warbrick to cross for his first NRL try in the 19th minute.
Pezet again showed his class five minutes later when he found Eliesa Katoa with a superb offload and the back-rower found Meaney looming in support for the Storm's second try.
Warbrick scores his first NRL try
The Tigers hit back on the half hour mark when Englishman John Bateman powered his way past a couple of defenders and fed Isaiah Papali'i who put Asu Kepaoa over in the left hand corner. Adam Doueihi's sideline conversion made it 12-6.
In his first game back from the finger injury he suffered in Round 1, Munster then launched a pinpoint bomb, winger Xavier Coates flew high to contest the ball and it fell to Justin Olam to cross for his first try of the season.
Munster then jumped into dummy half in the 39th minute and bamboozled the Tigers defence from 10 metres out as the Storm took a 22-6 lead to the break.
Koroisau kicks and chases for the try
After digging deep to defend their line early in the second half the Tigers finally got some field position in the 55th minute and Api Koroisau grubbered into the in-goal and touched down for a try after Meaney had shown a lack of urgency to clean it up. Doueihi converted for 22-12.
The Tigers threatened to close the gap even further as Bateman and Koroisau took charge but a poor kick by Brandon Wakeham on the final play and a scrum lost on their own feed took the wind out of their sails.
A penalty against Papali'i for a late tackle handed Meaney the chance to slot two more points in the 66th minute and the Storm led 24-12.
Try as they might the Tigers were unable to crack the line again as they slumped to a fourth consecutive loss to open the season.
Match: Storm v Wests Tigers
Round 4 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
- The Storm lost their captain's challenge in the 15th minute when they unsuccessfully contested a knock-on call against Christian Welch.
- Christian Welch led the way early for the home side with 89 metres from nine hit-ups in his opening 25-minute stint before he was replaced by Alec MacDonald.
- Rampaging centre Justin Olam set the tone for the Storm with 10 runs for 106 metres in the first half. He finished the night with 139 run metres.
- The Storm completed 18 of 20 sets in the first half at 90 per cent.
- Back at the scene of his memorable qualifying final try for Canberra in 2019, John Bateman did his best to lift the Tigers with 14 runs, five tackle breaks and 45 tackles.
Kepaoa hits back
- The Storm have won eight of their past 10 matches against Wests Tigers.
- Storm fullback Nick Meaney has scored six tries in his past six games against Wests Tigers.
- Wests Tigers back-rower Isaiah Papali'i went on report in the 66th minute for a late tackle.
- Winger Junior Tupou was strong for the Tigers with 17 runs for 164 metres and six tackle breaks.
- Daine Laurie finally got into the action off the Tigers' bench with eight minutes to play.
- Back-rowers Trent Loiero and Josh King combined for 37 runs and 332 metres for Melbourne.
Olam pounces on the ball
Play of the Game
The Storm had spent a fortnight in the doldrums without their main man Cameron Munster but the Maroons magician was back on deck tonight and played a starring role. After some nice touches by hand and foot in the opening 38 minutes, Munster put the icing on a strong first half when he darted over from 10 metres out to give the Storm a handy 16-point lead at half-time. After two disappointing losses to the Bulldogs and Titans, Craig Bellamy's men looked more like their old selves with Munster back calling the shots and tormenting the Tigers defence.
Welcome back Munster
What They Said
"I thought our effort tonight was a whole heap better than it was the last couple of weeks. We've still got some guys there that are a bit underdone, they haven't done much in pre-season and they haven't played too many games. It was a much improved effort from our last two weeks and I think they took a bit of pride in playing at home tonight and that was the pleasing thing." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy
Storm: Round 4
"We lost the game in the last 10 minutes of the first half when it skipped away from us. I asked the boys to win the second half and they did and that gave us a chance to win the game, we were in the game but every option we took seemed to be the wrong option. Again the effort was there but the execution was very ordinary in many ways. It's not for a lack of trying, they are trying hard, otherwise Melbourne would have put 50 on us." - Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens
Wests Tigers: Round 4
The Storm travel to Sydney in Round 5 for a Friday night showdown with the Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium. The Tigers face a daunting road trip to face the in-form Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.