Storm forwards lay platform for thrilling win
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has credited the efforts of his forward pack for getting his side over the line in golden point against the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
In conditions ideal for the big men, the Storm pack ran for a whopping 1886 metres; over 400 metres more than they've made on average in 2016.
Jesse Bromwich (222 metres and 32 tackles), Tohu Harris (173 metres and 48 tackles) and Dale Finucane (142 metres and 54 tackles) led the way for the Storm in a win that puts them within two points of ladder-leaders the Broncos.
Bellamy was in awe of the work of his forwards, highlighting the work of former Bulldog Dale Finucane as one of the reasons behind their early-season success.
"When we got Dale we thought we knew what we were getting – a tough competitor, a guy that can play long minutes, a guy that wants to play long minutes and a guy that wants to play with the ball, compete and defend well," Bellamy said.
"The thing I like about players like Dale, it doesn’t matter how much ability they've got, you know what you're going to get each week.
"As a coach, I like that and I think the players like that. They know what they're going to get from Dale Finucane. They're going to get 100 per cent every week and every play and for as long as he can go for.
"He's been a great acquisition for us. He's been fitting in really well and he's a great kid and I'm sure 'Smithy' [Cameron Smith] and 'Jez' [Jesse Bromwich] and all those guys love playing with him. When someone needs to put up his hand, he puts up his hands."
Sunday's win also saw prop Jesse Bromwich continue the form that has his coach labelling him the best forward in the game.
The Kiwis international went past 1000 running metres for the season in what was comfortably his best output in 2016.
"What else is new? He's one hell of a player and he just keeps backing up week after week," Bellamy said when asked about Bromwich's form.
"He never complains about how long he plays, he never complains about what he does. He's a bit like Dale. He just wants to go and compete.
"He's a guy that's come through our junior systems and I must admit I never ever saw this in him (how good he is).
"He works really hard on his game and he gets what he deserves. He keeps carrying us through certain stages of the game and I couldn't be happier with Jez."
The consistency of the Storm pack has been made all the more important by the constant changes in their backline.
Melbourne were without Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Curtis Scott, Jeremy Hawkins, Cheyse Blair and Young Tonumaipea for Sunday's clash, with skipper Cameron Smith saying that the chopping and changing out wide was hurting their cohesion in attack.
But while the Storm are struggling in attack, their defence has been rock solid, conceding under 20 points in all seven matches in 2016.
Smith has sent an ominous warning to the rest of the competition, saying the Storm will be even more formidable once their vaunted attack clicks.
"It's just been a different start to the year for us this year. We've had a lot of changes throughout our backline," Smith said.
"I don't think our left edge has had one left edge the same each match this year. We're sort of continually trying to introduce new guys into that side and work them into our system.
"I'm just really pleased with the effort from the boys at the moment. We're working extremely hard every day when we get out on the training paddock.
"Our defence has been quite good this year. It’s what's keeping us in matches and we need to keep that up.
"There's one part of the game we're struggling in at the moment and that's inside the opposition 20. We've got no other issues at all. Once we sort that out hopefully we'll turn the corner and score some points and make it easier for ourselves."