Dragons v Storm: Five key points
After the Melbourne Storm defeated the Dragons 12-4 in a scrappy start to both teams' seasons, here are a few things you can bank on heading into Round 2.
Great Wall of Melbourne returns
Resembling the aftermath of the Berlin Wall by the end of last season, the Storm's Great Wall of Melbourne certainly returned with a bang against the Dragons.
Limiting St George Illawarra to just a single try for the match, Melbourne had clearly spent the majority of their pre-season remodelling their once great defence to suit the current crop of Storm players coming through.
While it didn't always work out for some individuals – with trio Jesse Bromwich, Dale Finucane and Felise Kaufusi all placed on report for questionable tackles – the Storm were otherwise able to hold strong with 80 more tackles than their opponents, with only seven more missed tackles than the Red V.
"It seemed like we were tackling for 25 minutes in that first half," Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith said after the game.
"But I'm very proud of our effort especially on our tryline – it was an area we were very poor at last year and we put a lot of focus on that area over the pre-season.
"It worked for us tonight. We kept turning them away and it's a pretty good sign of a really mentally tough footy side when you're able to do that which is pleasing."
Discipline, not point-scoring, a concern for Storm
Although they were only able to score 12 points for the match through the boot of Smith and tries to outside backs Will Chambers and Young Tonumaipea, the Storm's attacking output is nothing for their fans to stress about considering they were limited to 36 per cent of possession in the first half and 43 per cent by game's end.
However, being put in that position was ultimately due to their costly mistakes. The Storm ended up finishing the game with 10 errors while conceding eight penalties. While the enormity of their ill-discipline wasn't earth-shattering, if they would have opened their season up against a better team things might not have been as rosy.
Dragons' lateral style of play in good territory cost them
One reason the Storm were able to escape with the win was the Dragons' disappointing attack, particularly in the first half.
With halves Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall failing to straighten the attack up, the side-to-side nature of the Dragons style of attack was more reflective of a barnyard hoedown than a professional rugby league outfit.
In the first 40 minutes alone, the Dragons had nine attacking raids in their opposition's half and failed to capitalise once.
Throw in the fact that 33 of their possessions in the first 35 minutes of the game were played out within the Storm's 20-metre zone and you better believe the Dragons have plenty to improve on before their clash with the Wests Tigers next Monday night.
Coach Paul McGregor remained optimistic though.
"We just didn't do enough with [the ball]," McGregor said.
"It's the first game of the year so you're always going to be a little out with different things. It's not a major concern because I know how good the boys have been in practice but come game time under a bit of fatigue, people missed their ops which were unfortunate. But it's nothing that can't be fixed."
Merrin still focused on the job at hand
Despite having his future and contract negotiations played out in the media over the pre-season – and as a result, signing with the Penrith Panthers for the 2016 season and beyond – Trent Merrin was one of the standouts for the home team.
Racking up just a tick under 100 metres in the first half after starting from the bench, Merrin ended proceedings with 174 metres and 20 tackles to his name.
Showing why he's represented New South Wales for multiple seasons and why several clubs were chasing his signature, Merrin proved he is ready and willing to do his best for the club that gave him his start in the NRL.
Blake Green was promising in his Storm debut
Storm coach Craig Bellamy had zero problems labelling new five-eighth Blake Green as the club's dominant individual in Melbourne's trial matches but it didn't stop him from remaining cautious about the former Harry Sunderland Trophy winner's performance in his NRL return.
The man looking increasingly likely as the answer to the Storm's problematic five-eighth dilemma was described as "solid" and a "work in progress" by his new coach after his first NRL match alongside halves partner Cooper Cronk.
"We're really happy with the way [Blake is] going. We were happy with how Dale Finucane went too so we think we have made a couple of real good buys there," Bellamy said.
"Blake is a work in progress, especially with he and Cooper [Cronk] never playing together before. You can replicate some of it at training but in competition games it's a bit different in the heat of the battle. I'm sure he'll get even better though.
"A couple of times he should've got the ball when he didn't but that's to be expected."