Bulldogs v Storm: Five key points
The key talking points from Melbourne's Round 1 win over the Bulldogs at a rain-drenched Belmore Sports Ground on Friday night.
Storm look sharp
The Storm look like they haven't missed a step in 2017 – well for the most part anyway. Their first 20 minutes was sensational as they jumped to an early 10-0 lead after seven minutes. The Storm were typically clinical, executing set plays to sweep the ball across field. They were unlucky not to score another two tries in that time had it not been for the Bulldogs' early resilience.
In the end they did the job in front of a hostile Bulldogs crowd at Belmore, and without Jesse Bromwich who succumbed to an early broken thumb 10 minutes into the game. It's incredible that Melbourne constantly find a way to win games even with key players sidelined as they await Tohu Harris and Billy Slater's eventual return to first grade.
No love lost for 2012 grand finalists
There was a lot of niggle between the two sides early in the match and it boiled over with a major scuffle in the 36th minute with Will Chambers and Sam Kasiano letting their feelings known. They were both sent to the sin bin and neither side let up in a good old-fashioned dog fight. In the end it could've gone either way but the Storm held on for a gritty 12-6 victory to set up their 2017 season account. Josh Jackson was outstanding for Canterbury, making 41 tackles and 21 runs for 142 metres. Captain James Graham also made 38 tackles with David Klemmer and Aiden Tolman making 36 tackles each. For the Storm, the ever-reliable Cameron Smith kept the Bulldogs defence guessing while racking up 39 tackles.
No Marika, no worries
Josh Addo-Carr was sensational in his debut on the wing for the Storm. From the very start, Addo-Carr showed he is more than capable of comfortably filling Marika Koroibete's shoes. On his first touch, Addo-Carr busted through the line for a 40-metre break that put the Storm on the attack ahead of their first try.
Addo-Carr ran the ball 13 times for a match-high 202 metres along with five tackle breaks and two line breaks. He consistently bent the defensive line on each run and looked more than safe under the high ball, turning each bomb into instant attack. It's already looking like another Craig Bellamy masterstroke in recruiting the speedster to Melbourne and Addo-Carr will only get better.
To say the Bulldogs were under the pump early on is a massive statement. The Storm dominated the opening 20 minutes of the side and the Bulldogs were gutsy in holding on to trail 12-0. A slimmer Sam Kasiano was substituted midway through the first half and his impact was felt immediately. With the aid of five consecutive penalties, the Bulldogs managed to overturn the momentum to cut the Storm's lead 12-6 before half-time. Canterbury opened the second half with the same intensity but couldn't break the stubborn Storm defence as the rain began to fall.
Bulldogs attack on the improve
The Bulldogs were starved of possession in the opening 20 minutes and the weather didn't hold up in the second-half, setting up difficult wet-weather conditions to chase down a 12-6 lead. However, after plenty of criticism of their lack of creativity last season, Canterbury looked to chance their arm a little more and take their chances in attack. At one point Will Hopoate looked caught in goal but found Josh Morris who made a 50-metre break to set the blue and white deep in enemy territory. It's a promising sign for Des Hasler's side but they'll need to find ways to initiate their own opportunities rather than waiting for them.