Warriors v Storm: Five key points
As a literal storm took hold across Auckland, the Melbourne variety proved just as destructive as they beat the Warriors 26-10 at Mount Smart Stadium. Here are the five key points from Friday night's NRL Telstra Premiership clash.
Historic night for two international stars
Both Cameron Smith and Shaun Johnson achieved significant milestones on Friday, with Smith surpassing 2000 career points and the latter overtaking Stacey Jones as the Warriors' all-time leading points scorer.
Smith is the first Queenslander and forward to achieve the feat, joining an elite list which includes Hazem El Masri, Andrew Johns, Jason Taylor, Daryl Halligan and, and as of Friday night as well, Johnathan Thurston.
Johnson meanwhile went past Jones (674 points) on the list with a try in the first half.
Post-match Smith was typically humble about his achievement.
"I am very fortunate that I have played for a wonderful club for a long time and have played alongside some fantastic players who have given me the opportunity to score those points," the Storm captain said.
Kearney on the right track according to Bellamy
Despite enjoying a comfortable victory over the Warriors in the end, Storm coach Craig Bellamy had plenty of praise for his former assistant coach Stephen Kearney.
Having worked with Kearney for several years at the Storm, Bellamy said it was clear the Warriors were already making significant steps towards improving their on-field performances under their new head coach.
"I think Steve is a great choice…he will do some really good things here," Bellamy said.
"They will be on the right track for sure, he is a quality coach, was a quality player and is a quality person.
"I know it was a close game last week (when the Warriors beat Newcastle 26-22) but I thought some of their tackles were really sharp last week and in the trial against the Titans they were the same."
Another show of grit pleases Melbourne
For the second week in a row Melbourne played through torrid conditions and survived lengthy periods without the ball to taste victory.
After edging past the Bulldogs 12-6 a week ago in Round 1, the Storm did it tough at times against the Warriors before pulling away on the scoreboard late in the second half.
Bellamy said the nature of the performance was particularly pleasing.
"Our guys just gritted their teeth, kept making their tackles, kept turning up," Bellamy said.
"We got the result we probably deserved in the end."
Meanwhile Smith said he was impressed with how his side managed to stay calm on both sides of the Steeden.
"[The message was] just to stay composed, I think that has been a huge part of our last two performances," Smith said.
"There have been periods in the first two games where we have been under a lot of pressure, on the back foot, and I thought our defensive efforts and composure in defence [worked]."
Good won't get you the two points against Melbourne
Although the scoreboard will suggest otherwise, the Warriors played well for most of the 80 minutes in Round 2, and at times looked better than they did in the first-up victory over Newcastle.
An 86 per cent completion rate shows the Kiwi side looked after the ball well in miserable conditions, while their first try to Tuimoala Lolohea showed stunning creativity and skills from a number of players.
The Warriors also defended repeat sets camped against their own line on several occasions, but Kearney said small lapses meant it was all in vain.
"You come up against a side like Melbourne and they are a benchmark of the competition," Kearney said.
"They taught us some lessons, but I thought there was some really encouraging signs there.
"[Melbourne] don't give you a great deal, so you have got to really make sure that you are executing well, and I just didn't think we did that at the back end of our sets."
Munster stands tall in deluge
In conditions most fullbacks would consider a nightmare, Storm No.1 Cameron Munster came up with some huge numbers and defused a glut of aerial threats with class.
Named at fullback once again as Billy Slater continues his comeback from injury, Munster's provisional stats read 192 running metres of 23 carries, along with a line break and two try assists.
While he had one notable drop under a high ball, across the 80 minutes he was safe and gave Melbourne solid starts to their sets in Auckland, finishing with 58 NRL Fantasy points.