Storm v Warriors: Five key points
A Fijian flyer, wasted chances and the return of the Hoff headline our five key learnings from the Storm's clash with the Warriors at AAMI Park on Monday night.
Melbourne's favourite Fijian has Storm fans on the edge of their seat whenever he touches the footy. Marika Koroibete had a man of the match performance on Monday with two tries and 207 metres, but it was his two thrilling runs that you will be seeing over and over again during the week. The first was a 30 metre break off a Blake Green pass that left five Warriors defenders clutching at thin-air as he scored his first try. The second was even better and came at a crucial moment in the second half with the Storm pinned deep in their own half. Koroibete broke clean through and it would take Warriors speedster Shaun Johnson all of 85metres to bring the Fijian down.
"After that last [Warrior] try Smithy just told me to get more involved and get us out of the red zone," Koroibete said after the win.
"I just ran hard and did the job for the boys.
"It's a huge thing for me to learn off Craig Bellamy and all of the boys, to go out there and show what I've been taught the last few months in pre-season."
Warriors wasteful when it mattered
The first 10 minutes showed us the best and worst of what the Warriors have to offer. They burst out of the blocks, dominating the first 10 minutes with 64% of possession. However four errors in the same stretch, two from Shaun Johnson passes that found the ball kid instead of Jonathan Wright, left the visitors empty handed and chasing their tail for the remainder of the game.
"You just can't win a footy game if you drop that much ball," coach Andrew McFadden said.
"It really just comes down to having a bit more pride in securing the ball. There were some patches there that we looked good but it was all undone by a simply fundamental error.
"Anytime we started to get a bit of momentum we gave it back to them by unforced errors. It's Melbourne in Melbourne, you're not going to win a game by doing that."
Sweating on Slater's fitness
Melbourne will be keeping close watch on the fitness of Billy Slater ahead of next week's trip to Canberra. The star fullback was in the wars on Monday and cut a sore figure in the sheds after the match. He was blind-sided with a crunching tackle by Manu Vatuvei in the first half that left him nursing his left arm for the remainder of the game, while he also picked up a knock to the rib cage late in the second half. Slater managed to play out the majority of the game, but with a six-day turnaround before the trip to Canberra, all eyes with be on his race against the recovery clock.
The Return of the Hoff
You would be hard pressed to see a player receive a better reception from their former club than Ryan Hoffman did at AAMI Park on Monday. Stepping out for game 250 against the side he played all but five of those for, Hoffman was given a rousing reception by the Melbourne crowd. After the match he was handed the game ball by great mate and former skipper Cameron Smith, showing the high regard in which the veteran is still held at the Storm.
Two late inclusions, two very different stories
Both Konrad Hurrell and Mahe Fonua were late inclusions into their respective sides but their first grade returns were polar opposites. After being named for the first time since Round 1, Hurrell still looked to struggle with his troublesome knee and was shaky in possession, committing two first half knock-ons in Warrior territory, the first of which led to the game's opening try. Fonua on the other hand had a try, an assist and a line break and formed a solid partnership at both ends of the park with Will Chambers. Craig Bellamy recalled the 22-year-old for his first game of the year after revealing post-match he thought Young Tonumaipea had been down on confidence in last week's loss to the Cowboys.