Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy defended his prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who had a rocks and diamonds kind of match in the Storm's 9-8 win over the Sydney Roosters at Adelaide Oval.
The 200cm front-rower dropped the ball cold twice and was then penalised for not playing the ball correctly – handing possession to the Roosters at vital moments in a tight game.
But Bellamy gave his 22-year-old international some latitude since he had endured a long trip home from Denver after playing for New Zealand in the loss to England last weekend.
"Nels [Asofa-Solomona] has a bit of game like that every now and again. I thought other than his errors, he was really strong for us to be quite honest," Bellamy said.
"We've got a couple of big guys out for us at the moment like Jesse [Bromwich] and Sam [Kasiano]. So I thought he did a pretty good job.
"They were pretty critical drops but he battled on hard after that considering what he's been through this week."
Asofa-Solomona did have his brighter moments. He scored Storm's only try in the 60th minute to put the Victorian side ahead 8-2.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Storm - Round 16, 2018
Bellamy also gave the thumbs up for his winger Josh Addo-Carr, who re-injured the ankle he hurt in the NSW's series winning 18-14 victory over Queensland in Holden State of Origin match last Sunday.
Addo-Carr needed help from the trainer in the 54th minute when his Blues teammate Latrell Mitchell accidentally stood on his ankle during a tackle near the sideline. The Blues flyer was pretty much a passenger for the rest of the game against the Roosters.
"He came in on Tuesday and could hardly walk on his ankle, but he was determined to play. It settled down pretty well and he trained OK yesterday," Bellamy said.
"He obviously had a couple of problems with it [tonight] but if he gets a bit of treatment and gives it a couple of days to settle down, he'll be fine for Origin."
NSW coach Brad Fittler names his team for Origin III on Monday for the July 11 clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Of course, the star for Melbourne was former Queensland Origin skipper Cameron Smith, who potted a 40-metre field goal to secure the win. The last time he kicked a match-sealing one-pointer was in round 22, 2016, for a 15-14 win over South Sydney.
"That was at home [AAMI Park] so a lot easier. I just sort of got lucky there tonight," Smith said.
"It was a bit of a late decision actually as Cameron [Munster] had a few shots. We were setting up for a field goal in that set and I thought 'I might as well have a crack here'.
"I asked Billy [Slater] to go into dummy-half and send a pass out to me. He hit me on the mark and it went over."
Smith also sailed past 2,300 career points with that kick. He remains in second place on the all-time first-grade career points behind Bulldogs great Hazem El Masri [2,418].
Asofa-Solomona shows strength to break deadlock