Warriors v Storm: Five key points
The Storm rallied late to record a 21-14 victory over the Warriors on Sunday which lifted them to a perfect three from three start to the year. Here are five key points from the Play NRL Round clash at Mt Smart Stadium.
Smith and Cronk have been there, done that
The superior experience of the Melbourne spine shone through in the final five minutes of the contest, with Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk taking control to orchestrate the victory.
Both players had involvement in the match-winning field goal and the two Queenslanders looked typically composed as the game reached peak intensity.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he had sent down the call for the one-pointer, but that after so many years working with the pair he wasn't sure why he bothered.
"I always send the message down, but it's probably a waste of time, they know what they are doing," Bellamy said.
"It just probably makes me feel a bit better I suppose.
"But usually they know the right time so I'm probably better off sitting up there and shutting my mouth."
One tough Tevaga
Playing in his first Telstra Premiership match in place of the injured Issac Luke, Warriors hooker Jazz Tevaga received plenty of praise for his durability through a match where an injury to bench hooker Nathaniel Roache forced him to play 59 minutes.
In addition to playing a much larger chunk of the game than first expected, Tevaga found himself in the wars physically.
He shook off a monster Kenny Bromwich shot to the ribs in the second half, before later clashing heads with Jeff Robson and splitting his cheek open. The Papakura Sea Eagles junior left the field for a concussion test but returned to finish the match.
"He did well, he played tough. I am sure that was one of the main reasons why Cappy (coach Andrew McFadden) put him in the team when Issac went down," Warriors skipper Ryan Hoffman said of Tevaga.
"We want tough players and Jazz is certainly one of them. We saw he was putting his body in front and we are really proud of his effort."
Completions key for Melbourne
The Storm were far from perfect in Auckland but still managed an excellent 89 per cent completion rate, which Bellamy believed was the difference in the end.
Of Melbourne's 38 sets they completed 34, while they made few mistakes in the closing minutes.
"The completion rates were a little bit better than the Warriors and I think that was probably the difference in the end," Bellamy said.
The hosts on the other hand completed at 75 per cent, and saved their worst errors for the dying stages when they were right in the mix to secure their first win of the year.
"Melbourne had a great completion rate and our errors weren't in the areas that we can make them, you just can't have errors coming out of your own end against a team like Melbourne," Hoffman said.
Final minutes hurting Warriors
For the second week in a row the Warriors found themselves right in the contest as the last 15 minutes approached, but failed to carry it though into a win.
After trailing 12-4 at the break the Warriors fought back to lead the match 14-12 with 11 to go, but couldn't foot it with the Storm when it counted.
"Obviously there were a couple of errors at the end which really put us under pressure, but I thought we did so well to get ourselves back in front and just when we needed to keep our game tight we got a bit loose," coach Andrew McFadden said.
"It's just concentration from individuals at the time, it was a tough game and [Melbourne] have got some players who have been in that position before and they just kept it tight."
No drama expected with Gavet tackle
Warriors prop James Gavet was put on report in the 36th minute for a cannonball tackle on Storm fullback Cameron Munster.
Although Munster fell awkwardly there didn't appear to be any obvious malice from Gavet in the low tackle, and McFadden doesn't expect he will have a case to answer this week at the NRL judiciary.
"I know it was an awkward tackle in the end, but that happens in a contact game. But there's nothing illegal with the tackle," McFadden said.
While counterpart Bellamy also downplayed the incident post-match.
"I didn't see it closely. But it's probably not the classic (cannonball) tackle where they get charged, where there is a couple of guys up top and someone jams in low," Bellamy said.
"Some people would probably say that's a bit tough, but that's someone else's area so I am sure they will sort that out."