Melbourne issue storm warning in the NYC
The Thunderbolts have emerged as genuine premiership threats with a crushing 62-24 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon.
Melbourne are now unbeaten after four rounds and were a cut above at Leichhardt Oval with skipper Harry Grant and fullback Scott Drinkwater having a field day against the struggling Tigers.
The match couldn't have started any better for the visitors with Melbourne scoring in the first minute through Sale Finau after they had earlier regathered the opening kick-off.
The Thunderbolts extended their lead six minutes later when hard-running back-rower Beau Fermor charged onto a short ball from Matt Egan to score virtually untouched.
Melbourne pushed their advantage out to 16 points when Grant darted over out of dummy-half and they made it four tries in the opening 20 minutes when Fermor broke through a tackle and offloaded to Egan who crossed next to the posts.
The first-half procession rolled on from the next set when Jacob Tonge burst through some flimsy defence, drew the fullback and found Jesse Arthars in space to make it 28-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers when late inclusion Scott Drinkwater went himself from 50 metres out to score in the corner, but the hosts were given a reason to cheer when centre Liam Pakau slid over 10 minutes before the break.
It was a very different start to the second half with Tigers fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen breaking into the clear on just the second play, and his effort was backed up by Jake Scott who burrowed over from close range to narrow the gap.
Needing to settle things down, the Thunderbolts hit back through five-eighth Hayden Herbert who was on hand to finish off a classy break and flick pass from Drinkwater to make it 38-12, before the fill-in fullback backed up a break by Grant to score under the sticks from the next set.
Drinkwater's incredible day continued when he grubbered through early in the count to set up Finau for his second try, but there was nothing he could do when behemoth Taniela Paseka charged over him to peg one back for the Tigers.
Paseka was at it again moments later with a barnstorming run that skittled Melbourne's defence, paving the way for Thomas Mikaele to fall over the line from the next play.
With the game well and truly over, Cory Parker produced an incredible chase in defence to bundle Tigers halfback Blake Higgins into touch, and the centre was rewarded for his effort with a line break to set up Drinkwater for his third of the day.
Arthars put the cherry on top with a try in the final minute to help the Thunderbolts equal their highest score in the NYC set back in 2010.
Storm 62 (Scott Drinkwater 3, Sale Finau 2, Jesse Arthars 2, Beau Fermor, Harry Grant, Matt Egan, Hayden Herbert tries; Jesse Arthars 9 goals) def. Wests Tigers 24 (Liam Pakau, Jake Scott, Taniela Paseka, Thomas Mikaele tries; Blake Higgins 4 goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Half-time: 34-6.