One of the most anticipated matches of Round 7 as NRL fans around the country were ready to see how Melbourne would play after being stripped of all points for 2010.
It turns out that playing for pride was more than enough for the $700,000 over-paid Storm who coasted to an incredible 40 – 6 win at Etihad Stadium on Sunday night, handing the Warriors their fourth season loss in front of a 23,900 crowd.
The Storm have won five from seven now, but even if they were playing for competition points, they would be behind the Dragons who secured their sixth win this round defeating the Roosters.
New Zealand have now suffered two massive defeats in a row after being thrashed 40 – 12 by the Panthers in Round 6.
Melbourne played without Greg Inglis out with an ankle injury sustained in Round 6 when the Storm were defeated by Manly, as well as a number of other key players but still managed to keep the Warriors scoreless until the final two minutes of the match.
The Storm displayed their usual ability but this time it was super-charged with the frustration and pain of the week’s revelations and the loss of their much-loved premiership titles.
Storm captain Cameron Smith, one of the star players at the centre of Melbourne’s salary cap scandal, opened their account 16 minutes in, converting his own try to give the home team an early six point lead.
They totally dominated from then on scoring another three unanswered tries in the first half, one each to Matthew Duffle on debut, Adam Blair and Ryan Tandy. Smith converted two from these three and Melbourne went to the break with a very comfortable 22 – nil lead.
It was more of the same in the second half as Duffle scored his second match try in a brilliant first game in the NRL eight minutes back from the break, before William Isa got over again a mere three minutes later.
Then Billy Slater, who is getting big offers from union’s Melbourne Rebels to switch codes, put the icing on the cake with a 67th minute try.
Smith kicked all three second half tries and the Storm were up to a very impressive 40 points.
With two minutes left on the clock it looked like the Warriors would receive one of the biggest defeats in the NRL’s history and remain on zero points, but Ukuma Ta’ai saved them from that embarrassment finally scoring for New Zealand and with James Maloney converting they managed six points.