On Sunday afternoon the Storm atoned for their inaugural loss at AAMI Park with a comprehensive victory at their new stadium, beating the struggling Bulldogs 23 – 12 despite a number of their integral stars not backing up after Origin.
Melbourne, although out of premiership contention this year, have still secured eight victories while the Bulldogs are one of the season’s worst performers down in number 13 after suffering their fourth straight loss on Sunday.
Playing without injured Origin stars Billy Slater, Greg Inglis or Brett White, and still missing captain Cameron Smith, Melbourne put in a brave and impressive performance proving they are a team with depth.
The Storm totally dominated with their four-tries-to-two win, putting their first points on the board just six minutes in when Dane Nielsen scored. With regular kicker Smith still out with an elbow injury, Gareth Widdop took over kicking duties and converted the opening try so the home side held an early six point lead.
Widdop was called in to replace Slater, after the talented fullback suffered a back injury in Queensland’s Game 1 Origin win, and more than covered for the missing No. 1.
Throughout the remainder of the first half Melbourne managed three more tries and a field goal to bring their total score to 23 points, while the visitors failed to open their account.
Debutant Chase Stanley, stepping in for Inglis, backed up Nielsen’s try four minutes later with a 10th minute four-pointer. Luke MacDougall then scored in the 27th minute and Gareth Widdop, who ended up with a personal haul of 11 points after 40 minutes, followed Brett Finch’s 32nd minute field goal with a try two minutes from half-time.
Back from the break the Bulldogs Andrew Ryan scored their first try six minutes in, converted by Bryson Goodwin giving them six points as Canterbury chased their first win in Melbourne since 2005.
But it wasn’t to be as even though Melbourne didn’t get any more points, their sensational first half had been enough to set them up for the win.
Brett Kimmorley was able to score a final consolatory try for Canterbury six minutes from time, Goodwin again converting so the closing score was 23 – 12 in favour of Melbourne.
This weekend we are backing the Storm once again as they travel to Parramatta to play the Eels, while the Bulldogs will struggle against the Tigers on Friday night. Check out Ladbrokes.com.au for the latest Rugby League Betting odds.