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After last week’s loss to the Newcastle Knights, Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy asked how ruthless his side wanted to be.
In front of 20,429 fans and a host of Storm old boys at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, Bellamy’s playmakers showed they can be very ruthless indeed. They thrashed the Parramatta Eels 46-16 as halfback Jahrome Hughes, hooker Harry Grant and five-eighth Cameron Munster dominated the hapless visitors’ defence.
Defensively, the Storm have a lot of work to do, and their forward pack remains lacking in big game experience, but in attack they can match it with anyone, especially when Hughes is in this sort of mood, with the victory another step towards locking in a top-four finish.
The New Zealand international scored a try and had four assists, Grant scored twice and made sure the Storm’s attack was constantly on the front foot, and Munster’s solo try in the second half was as good as any you will see this season.
Fullback Nick Meaney kicked seven out of eight conversion attempts, while veteran forward Tepai Moeroa gave the side much-needed drive off the bench in his first game of 2023.
A host of Storm luminaries – including Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Marcus Bai – were on the field pregame as the club celebrated its 25th anniversary by parading its six premiership trophies, including the 2007 and 2009 titles which were stripped from the NRL record books by the salary cap scandal in 2010.
Jahrome Hughes celebrates a Storm try at Marvel Stadium.Credit: Getty
The current players, on both sides, showed their rebellious streak with tape covering the NRL logo on their jerseys as part of their ongoing industrial relations dispute with the league.
But the Storm struggled in the early minutes, falling behind when Eels winger Sean Russell leapt over to score in the corner just four minutes in. Russell could have had a second try minutes later had his side not rushed an opening down his right wing.
Instead, the Storm were soon ahead as Grant barged over after 11 minutes. He made it a double in the 22nd minute when he took a pass from Hughes and forced his way over again.
Grant provided the inside pass to Hughes, who stepped his way through the Eels defence and over for a try and a 18-4 lead just before the half-hour mark. A strong run and finish by J’maine Hopgood cut into that lead on 32 minutes.
The Eels couldn’t find enough tackles defensively as Eliesa Katoa celebrated his return from five games out after eye surgery by powering between two defenders to make it 24-10 just before half-time.
Hughes showed more tricks on 47 minutes, flicking an inside pass to Josh King, who powered over under the posts as the lead grew to 30-10.
Minutes later, Hughes made a key play at the defensive end, sprinting to the sideline to stand in front of winger Waqa Blake to stop him scoring. Hughes was sent flying and left winded for his troubles.
He was again the provider as Marion Seve bolted over just before the hour mark. Eels forward Luca Moretti scored a try in the 63rd minute when the Storm defence failed to get hold of him close to the line.
Five-eighth Cameron Munster was having a relatively quiet night until he turned on the magic 11 minutes from time; dummying, stepping and fending off a combined six Eels defenders before powering over the line.
Storm winger Will Warbrick polished off the win with a diving try in the corner.
We still don’t know if this year’s Storm are legitimate premiership contenders, but it will be fun watching them try.
Stream the NRL Premiership 2023 live and free on 9Now.
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