Storm party as Manly demolished
Melbourne love a milestone almost as much as they love Cameron Smith so they were never going to lose a game that involved both.
The Storm celebrated their skipper’s 350th NRL game with a crushing 40-6 win over Manly at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Sunday.
Smith joined Canterbury great Terry Lamb on the mark and now has Darren Lockyer’s record of 355 in sight by season’s end.
The victory reaffirmed Melbourne’s status as raging title favourites, while the Sea Eagles cling to seventh spot.
In typical Smith fashion, the 34-year-old didn’t sit back and bask in the glory but topped his team’s tackle count and had four try assists from their haul of seven, despite taking a pectoral injury into the game.
The Storm were a little sloppy early on with Nelson AsofaSolomona giving away a penalty for a tip tackle on former Melbourne playmaker Blake Green.
While Asofa-Solomona escaped report, Manly’s Addin Fonu-Blake was later put for a high tackle that caught the jaw of Storm halfback Cooper Cronk.
Exciting Melbourne rookie Jahrome Hughes, who played fullback with Cameron Munster reverting to five-eighth, opened the scoring for the home side thanks to a backhand pass from Smith.
The Sea-Eagles hit back through winger Matt Wright after a long cut-out pass from fullback Tom Trbojevic, who was one of his team’s best.
But that was all the visitors had to smile about.
A Storm try in the 39th minute that saw the ball travel from side to side, and then Suliasi Vunivalu barrel across from dummy half, crushed the Sea Eagles spirits.
That try put the winger among some elite company to have scored 38 tries in his first two seasons, alongside South’s Alex Johnston, ex-Balmain flyer Larry Corowa, and Dragons’ greats Reg Gasnier and Ron Roberts.
Shortly after half-time hardworking second-rower Joe Stimson ran on to a Smith ball and with the lead out to 18-6 Melbourne never looked back. Tries from Kenny Bromwich, Will Chambers and Cooper Cronk blew out the score before Josh AddoCarr capped the match with a 50-metre dash to line on full-time.