In what was a stunning victory over the defending premiers, the Sea Eagles have returned from south of the border with a 24-4 defeat of a disappointing Storm outfit, who were badly missing the leadership and direction of their inspirational skipper, Cameron Smith. This means that the Storm have now lost two of their last three matches, while the Sea Eagles have claimed two significant scalps in as many matches. Here are five things we learned from the match:
1 Totally unlike the Melbourne Storm we all know
The Storm have been known as a very consistent and disciplined team, who have a very low error rate and are feared in both defence and attack. This is especially apparent since Craig Bellamy took the reigns in 2003. However, the display that we saw last night was anything but a typical Storm performance. It was a performance which was littered with errors, with the Storm committing 15 errors for the match, to finish with a 61% completion rate.
Moreover, they missed 22 tackles to the Sea Eagles’ 15, while being completely dominated in the yardage department, having only made 1164 metres for the match, which was exactly 400 metres less than their opponents. In addition, whilst the Sea Eagles had managed two line breaks for the match, the Storm could not buy a single line break. All of this culminated in a substantial loss for the Storm, as they were restricted to two penalty goals. As such, this performance had prompted Bellamy to say he could not ever recall seeing his side play as poorly as this.
2 Smith’s absence quite apparent
In addition to the aforementioned, it was apparent that the void left by Cameron Smith, through suspension, was too difficult an obstacle to overcome. Smith is known as one of the best (if not the best) players and captains in the NRL, and it is of minimal surprise that whenever he is leading the Storm, Queensland or Australia while on the field, Smith’s team is almost unbeatable.
Therefore, his absence through suspension was never likely to go unnoticed. This proved to be the case in this match, as the Sea Eagles capitalised on a Storm side, who were without the direction of Smith, en route to a 24-4 victory. This loss without Smith means that the Storm continue their poor record without their skipper, as they have won only seven of their previous 22 matches without him.
3 Rivalry ignited
Despite the lopsided scoreline in favour of the Sea Eagles, this match was definitely not without its fiery moments, which definitely remind us of the days when the rivalry between these two sides was at its peak. For most of the first half, Storm centre Curtis Scott and Sea Eagles five-eighth Dylan Walker were engaging in some niggle between them. It reached its nadir in the 52nd minute, when Scott lashed out at Walker, causing a melee between the two sides.
This lashing out would cost Scott of any further game time, as he would be sent off from that point. For the Sea Eagles, Walker and Api Koroisau would spend 10 minutes in the sin bin, for their respective roles in the brawl. Not only would the Sea Eagles win the scoreboard battle, they would also win this battle, given Curtis Scott is staring down the barrel of a multiple game suspension.
4 Sea Eagles claim second significant scalp
Last week, the Sea Eagles won their match against the Broncos in Brisbane, in a match which was actually their home game. Fast-forward one week later and the men from the northern beaches have claimed another major scalp, that is the defending premiers at their home ground. This means that the Sea Eagles have claimed a second major scalp in as many weeks. This victory is all the more impressive, given that their record in Melbourne is rather ordinary, having only won there twice, including a sole victory at AAMI Park in 2015.
In regards to their victory, whilst it was very impressive, the Sea Eagles could have won by even more, had it not being for their new recruit, Trent Hodkinson, missing some of his conversion attempts. Nonetheless, this highly impressive victory sees the men from Sydney’s northern peninsula remain in 12th place. Next week, they are up against the Raiders in the national capital, and they will travel there full of confidence, having already defeated them earlier this season, and the fact that they are on a high after two impressive victories.
5 Timekeeping blunder?
Although the Sea Eagles were ultra impressive and thoroughly deserving of their victory, as well as the competition points, this match has the focus of timekeeping to be a controversial point of the match. The Sea Eagles’ pairing of Api Koroisau and Dylan Walker were given their marching orders with 28:13 minutes remaining, and would return to the field with 19:54 minutes remaining.
Given that sin binnings usually go for 10 minutes, it appears that an anomaly is present in the amount of time the Sea Eagles players were off the field. Storm management appeared to be fuming over the issue, however Bellamy said that he would leave it to the authorities to investigate. As for whether it would have made much difference is rather debatable, as the Storm were their own worst enemies and the Sea Eagles were worthy winners.
What were your highlights from a fiery encounter? Let us know in the comments below.
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