Storm defence holds strong as stars back up
The Melbourne Storm displayed another fantastic defensive showing in Saturday's 24-6 home win against the Penrith Panthers.
Despite conceding in the opening 10 minutes the Storm kept the Panthers scoreless for the remainder of the game, much to coach Craig Bellamy's delight.
"I thought we were really strong defensively, they scored in the first 10 minutes, so to keep them scoreless for 70… it was outstanding," Bellamy said.
"I thought they did a really good job with their completions, they're a side that offloads a lot and changes directions with their play a bit, so you have to work really hard if you're going to defend well against them. So I thought our guys did a tremendous job to keep them scoreless for 70 minutes."
Throughout the week there was much debate over whether Origin stars Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk would back up for the Storm against the Panthers, and Bellamy said that the decision to play Cronk was made by the club doctor.
"I don't think anyone would have thought he [Cronk] could back up after what he went through with the ankle and it was still wasn't 100 per cent, but he made the point that it felt better on the Thursday then the Wednesday," Bellamy said.
"I was really keen for our medical staff to make the decision on him, and when he came in and the doctor had a look at him, he agreed with Cooper and said it was pretty good and if we wanted to play him he couldn't see any reason why he couldn't play."
Both Cronk and Smith had a huge impact in a win that sees the Storm move to the top of the table for the time being, and for Smith, there wasn't much doubt surrounding his availability.
"We pride ourselves on making ourselves available for the club," Smith said.
"I think there's been maybe two times in my whole career where Craig has said 'no you're not playing' and forced me to stay at home, but it's pretty important to us that we're available for our club and our teammates and to play with them.
"State of Origin is very important and it is a big part of our game, but it's not something that's going to take away from club football, not in my eyes."
With the two Queenslanders absent from training for most of the week, Bellamy had nothing but praise for Jesse Bromwich and Blake Green who stepped up and filled the void left by the Origin stars.
"They were tremendous, and they were all throughout the week without Cam and Cooper," Bellamy said.
"They took it upon themselves to get in the front seat and drive the team through our preparation, and I thought both of them were tremendous out there tonight."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Storm however, as Marika Koroibete suffered a concussion making a try-saving tackle late in the second half, and Bellamy hoped it was nothing too severe.
"He was still a bit dazed signing the team song in the rooms. He couldn't come back on during the match because he failed the test, so hopefully it's nothing too serious," Bellamy said.