It was yet another display of dominance as the Storm out-muscled the Broncos in an emphatic win. The first half was played at a frantic pace as the boys from Brisbane matched it with their hosts but the Storm took control, showing that it will take a monumental effort to take the 2017 Premiership away from them.
The Broncos take credit for keeping such a high intensity in the first 40 minutes but it ultimately took its toll in the second stanza. The Storm kept on coming and ended up completely dominating a team who probably didn’t deserve such a hefty scoreline against them. Poor attacking options and ill-discipline cost them in the end as the likes of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk took control while Billy Slater and Felise Kaufusi cut a tiring defence to shreds.
1 Frenetic tempo takes its toll
This match started at a typical finals pace as both sets of players came flying out of the blocks to try and gain the early ascendancy. There wasn't a handling error or penalty conceded in the opening 15 minutes, with the first coming via an Alex Glenn strip, which he lost forward and over the Storm try line. That was a turning point in the discipline stakes as they conceded a penalty from the next set and then another following a repeat set on their line to allow Smith an easy shot at goal.
Both sides were guilty of some basic handling errors leading towards the interval but as the 40th minute approached, Curtis Scott popped a brilliant offload to send Josh Addo-Carr away for the first try of the match. That would have deflated the Broncos who had fought so hard to keep pace with the Storm. They managed to stay within touching distance until the 60th minute as Slater extended the lead. That try broke their spirit as they conceded another two in the following 10 minutes to put the game to bed and showed, yet again, the tempo that needs to be sustained over 80 minutes to match it with the Premiership favourites.
2 Attacking options stifled Brisbane's chances
The Broncos worked themselves into plenty of promising attacking positions but they rarely took the right option. With the score at 2-0 in the 25th minute, Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd linked to create space for Tautau Moga. Moga had Corey Oates unmarked on his outside but ran the ball and bombed a certain try. There were several more disorganised sets in the Storm's red zone as grubbers from Milford and Ben Hunt failed to get through the line and a forward pass from Hunt killed their attacking momentum a few minutes later.
A turnover by Nelson Asofa-Solomona gifted Brisbane field position but some more space on the outside for Oates wasn't capitalised on early in the second half. It only got worse from there as they continually ran the ball on the last, resulting in turnovers or the ball ending up over the sideline. A lot of praise can be given to the Storm's resolute defence but some better decision making from the Broncos' strike players could've changed the complexion of this game.
3 Kaufusi key again
Kaufusi has been a revelation this season as Craig Bellamy has turned an impact player into an 80 minute threat on the Storm's right edge. His potential to carve up the opposition's line was apparent after five minutes as Slater put him through a hole and he returned the favour with a brilliant offload for the fullback's first try. He was also instrumental in Slater's second as another awesome offload put Cronk through and left him to draw and pass to send his fullback over.
It was another 80 minute effort for the big man, who also managed 32 tackles and 85m from eight runs. He has played in every NRL game for Melbourne this season and goes into the Grand Final having tallied eight tries, 13 line breaks and four assists. While the 'big three' of the Storm are always going to be the key men, you can't look past the contribution of the big back rower who has been a focal point in their attack.
4 Smith sets another record
Smith will down as a rugby league immortal and he added another accolade against the Broncos, becoming the first player to kick 1000 NRL goals. He is all ready the game's most capped player with 357 appearances, holding a record 42 State of Origin games alongside being only second to Darren Lockyer for Kangaroos caps.
The man just keeps getting better with age and 2017 could arguably go down as the best season of his illustrious career. He is the red hot favourite to win the Dally M Medal. He showed exactly why in this game as his composure shone through again. He steered his side around the field with the ease of a true legend. Smith kicked his six shots at goal and took his assists tally to 12 for this year. With the way he's going, it looks like he could play on into his 40's if he wanted to.
5 Is the Premiership a forgone conclusion?
After a 30-0 preliminary final, having recently toppled both of their potential Grand Final opponents, is the Premiership all ready as good as won? The Storm have been about as dominant as a team can be throughout the season and they look to be peaking at the perfect time. The Broncos weren't at their best but Melbourne make it difficult for any side to reach their potential. What sort of chance do the Roosters or Cowboys have if they reach the big dance next weekend?
The Roosters will be favourites to progress, with that potential Grand Final having been pencilled in for the majority of the season. The Cowboys have shown some incredible determination to get to this point and will carry that desire into their preliminary final.
Regardless of who progresses, it will take a monumental effort to steal this Premiership from Melbourne. They have shown some vulnerability in stages of their two finals appearances, especially in the second 20 minutes of both first halves. It's easier said than done but those chances will have to be capitalised on in order to deny Melbourne another Premiership title.
6 Brisbane fall short again
It's customary to see the Broncos deep in the finals series and they were impressive throughout the majority of this season but ultimately fell short of their perpetual goal. There isn't a rugby league fan who will forget the heartbreak Brisbane suffered in the 2015 Grand Final. They backed that up with a semi-final appearance last season before falling at the preliminary final this time around. That sort of record would be the envy of most NRL clubs but will they be able to maintain those lofty standards in 2018?
They have lost the likes of Hunt, Benji Marshall, Tautau Moga and Herman Ese'ese, who were all key members of their 17 this season. While they've brought in Jack Bird, there are still plenty of holes to fill in next season's line-up. Wayne Bennett has plenty of work left to do on his squad if they're to ensure that their fans aren't bitterly disappointed when next September rolls around.
What were your highlights from the Storm's 30-0 win over the Broncos? Let us know in the comments below.
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