I bet you’re wondering who Trev is and why should you care what he thinks? You shouldn’t, I’m just a guy who lives in Brisbane, Australia, supports the Parramatta Eels, and loves Rugby League like each and every one of you who reads this article. But hopefully I will be able give you a good read with a few fun facts and a bit of a laugh with each article I write. Now let’s get on to the footy.
I didn’t have a favourite match or moment of the week, but there was something that stood out in my mind and always seems to stand out. The Melbourne Storm are the most clinical and well drilled team I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter whether they’re up 30-0 against the last place team or down 14-0 to the West Tigers like they were on the weekend. They play the exact same way, the exact same style no what the situation. They persist and grind teams out of matches by just doing all the basics 100% correct.
From a kick return on in their own half, the centre/wingers will take the first two hit-ups to give the forwards time to get back on side. Then forwards like Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane will take the next couple of hit-ups with normally a block play to the backs on the fourth tackle and a kick to the corners on the last. Now that might seem the same as every other team in the NRL, which it is, but the difference between Melbourne and nearly every other team is that when the other teams cross that 25-30-minute mark and it hasn’t produced any results, they’ll get frustrated and start trying trick plays or risky offloads, which for the most part will become errors and give the opposing team’s chances inside their own half. Melbourne don’t do that. They are doing the same thing at the 65th minute as they were in the 10th. They play their own game and don’t let the other teams throw them off.
The Storm started the game against the Tigers very uncharacteristically. They made four errors in the opening twenty minutes giving the Tigers a great chance to pull away early. Melbourne were doing their regular plays as always but the Tigers had out enthused them from kick-off and were looking good. Yet after all the first half dominance from the Tigers, they could only manage 14 points because they lack attacking structure and it didn’t look like they knew how to cross the line unless it was luck or a great solo play.
Then the 39th minute came, the Tigers had the ball coming off their own line for the last set of the half, full of energy and still had all the momentum. Joel Edwards takes the ball and gets hit in a heavy tackle by Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Cam Smith in which the ball becomes loose, Tim Glasby was there to pick it up and offload for Asofa-Solomona to score underneath the posts. The Tigers put their heads down and although they were in front at half-time, they never looked like winning from that point.
The second half came and it was a totally different ball game, Melbourne again did what Melbourne do every week while the Tigers, on the other hand, lost their enthusiasm and looked very lazy up the middle in defence. In the 48th minute Cam Smith was able to take advantage of the Tigers slow line speed on the third tackle and easily kicked a 40/20 which, then the Storm scored off a simple block play. They were in complete control from that moment on. A couple of easy tries to Cheyse Blair and Josh Addo-Carr sealed the deal for Melbourne. They didn’t do anything too fancy, they just played to their game plan and took their chances when they had them, which came mainly off the back of the Tigers laziness in defence. The thing is though, Melbourne stayed patient, grounded out the tough times knowing their chances would come, and it did.
I am not a Melbourne Storm fan, They’re not even in my top five teams. But I respect the way they play each week. Are they perfect every week, No. They weren’t even close to their best against the Tigers, yet their structural discipline and with their persistence of playing their own game, also the class of Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk got them the two points.
Craig Bellamy is one of the greatest coaches ever, nobody can deny that. The way he turns ordinary role players from other clubs into very good Rugby League players and gets the best out of them is extraordinary. The way he gets his team so prepared week in, week out and to play as consistently as Melbourne have for the past ten years is astonishing and he may even go down as the greatest coach ever. But that’s just my two cents.
I hope you enjoyed reading the first of what I hope to be many articles I write for seriousaboutrl.com. If you’re keen to see and hear more about Rugby League, I also have a Rugby League show on YouTube with my friends and other writers on this website, Ben and Toby. The show is called Shut The Gates; it’s a weekly show that comes out every Wednesday. Watch below.