Billy Slater made a successful return from injury in Round 1.

Storm v Dragons: Five key points

The Dragons went close but Melbourne held on to start their season with a win for the 12th consecutive year.

Match Report: Storm edge Dragons

Melbourne are the kings of Round 1 

Another season, another opening-round win for the Melbourne Storm. 

A Storm side had never lost a season opener under the tutelage of Craig Bellamy, and Monday night was no exception. Melbourne won their 12th straight Round 1 contest, and have been undefeated in opening round matches since Bellamy took the reins in 2002.  

Billy Slater hasn't skipped a beat

'Billy the Kid' returned to the Storm line-up for the first time since Round 10 last season, and it was like he had never left. 

Slater was challenged at various stages throughout the night, and was hit with crunching tackles whenever the Dragons had the chance. 

His shoulder withstood the early tests, which seemed to give the gun fullback more confidence as a few minutes later he set up Marika Koroibete in the corner for the first Storm try of the night. 

He then turned provider for Koroibete again to get his side back in the game. 

His kick-chasing pressure was as tenacious as ever as he twice put opposite number Kurt Mann under immense pressure, one of which lead to a crucial penalty goal before half-time. 

There would have been some mental hurdles for Slater heading into the game, but he's well and truly back after this performance. 

 

Kicking game a big factor

Both sides seemed to have differing plays regarding the kicking game, and it was the Storm who ultimately benefitted the most. 

Cooper Cronk led the kicking charge as his countless high balls proved a worry for the Dragons backline, as Mann was put under pressure time and time again. Mann was mostly able to combat the danger but was beaten by the flight a couple of times, with one resulting in points for the Storm. 

The Dragons also had some joy with boot, as a Gareth Widdop bomb saw Tyson Frizell score in the second half. The Dragons didn't attack Slater as much as they would have liked with kicks, and may have missed out on a few opportunities to put the fullback under pressure. 

Poor discipline cost the Dragons

In a game decided by only two points it certainly didn't help the Dragons that they lost a lopsided penalty count, giving away nine penalties to the Storm's four. 

With the Dragons within a try with 20 minutes left on the clock, they had the chance to heap pressure on the Storm and try to force and error and get back into the match. But every time they were able to get good field position, they bailed the Storm out with a penalty. While this was only Round 1, the Dragons need to make sure this doesn't happen again as they can't afford to lose too many close games. 

With Round 1 complete, the bunker gets the nod

Eight sides have a win next to their name after the first week of the season, but the biggest victor of the weekend might be the bunker. 

The new review system has been a huge success over the opening round with quick, concise, and most importantly correct decisions being made each game to allow for a faster verdict. 

If the bunker can continue on its current trend, then it may be one of best things to come out of the 2016 season.