A post-Kearney era New Zealand Warriors, travelled to Melbourne to face the Storm, who themselves were also looking to bounce back from a defeat last week.
The Warriors were the first to cross the try-line in the third minute, as they shifted the ball out to Ken Maumalo who crashed over. Unfortunately, the big-winger was bundled over the touch-line in-goal for a Melbourne 20-metre restart.
A few minutes later, Patrick Herbert found himself celebrating in the left-hand corner after he held off Josh Addo-Carr and Cameron Munster to slam the ball on the try-line.
However, after a few views from the Bunker, Herbert was deemed to have knocked on and once again the Warriors were denied.
The physicality of the Warriors was tough for the Storm to deal with, as both Cameron Munster, and Christian Welch picked up knocks. Munster remained on the field, but Welch would leave for a Head Injury Assessment.
The Warriors were building lots of pressure on the Melbourne Storm, but a misdirected kick from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was gathered by Josh Addo-Carr who raced away to the 30 metre-line.
A quick play-the-ball followed which allowed Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster to push the ball out right to Paul Momirovski who, despite a slip, managed to cross for his first try in Melbourne colours.
With 20 minutes gone, the Warriors had once again begun to build pressure on the Melbourne line, but for now, the home side held firm.
The Storm then extended their lead five minutes later. Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen shifted the ball to Suliasi Vunivalu who pushed off Ken Maumalo to race away to score under the posts, after a poor defensive effort from Tuivasa-Sheck.
Melbourne then seemed to flick a switch and upped their intensity.
After starting a set inside the Warriors 20-metre line for the first time, it was never in doubt that a try would be scored.
Papenhuyzen picked up from dummy-half and attacked a small gap between Tuivasa-Sheck and Peta Hiku to score.
Things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as Karl Lawton failed a HIA, to leave him off the field.
This meant Chanel Harris-Tavita would play more minutes than expected having not played for nearly four months.
Minutes later, Momirovski crossed for his second. Munster’s crossfield kick was dropped by Ken Maumalo, passed off the ground by Vunivalu to Papenhuyzen, to Momirovski who walked over for the score.
The Storm looked for all money to pick up a try number five, but Nelson Asofa-Solomona was stopped inches from the try-line after a crashing run through the middle.
A spell of ill-discipline for the Storm gave the Warriors a chance to get on the board before the break, but a poor pass from Tohu Harris was intercepted by Momirovski to shut out the visitors.
HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 22-0 New Zealand Warriors
During the break, Cameron Munster was ruled out of the rest of the game due to the leg injury picked up at the start of the first half.
This seemed to affect the Storm slightly, as the Warriors finally picked up some well-deserved points.
After three sets of six, a quick play the ball from Blake Green was followed by quick hands out to Patrick Herbert who dotted down in the corner to score.
It didn’t take long for the Storm to cross again though, after a knock-on from Agnatius Paasi, the Storm spread a zero-tackle play out to Papenhuyzen who accelerated through a gap on the outside to score his second.
The Warriors should have picked up a second try with half an hour to go, as Nikorima’s wide pass to Patrick Herbert was dropped under no pressure to let the Storm off the hook.
The visitors were on top in the territory battle, with the majority of the game taking place in the Melbourne half, and nearly crossed again as Tuivasa-Sheck took the ball to the line, and put in a flat pass to Gerard Beale. Unfortunately, the ball ricocheted off the centre for another bombed try.
Moments later, the Storm attacked the left-hand edge of the Warriors, and Momirovski dribbled kick through was picked up by Felise Kaufusi, inside to Hughes, who offloaded off the floor to Vunivalu to score.
Kenny Bromwich and Tino Faasuamaleaui were off the field for HIA’s leaving the Storm down to 13 players for a short while.
The pain continued for the Warriors, as Jahrome Hughes kicked deftly over the top of the defensive line for Vunivalu to chase and ground the ball for his hat-trick.
With 20 minutes off the game remaining, the Warriors were hoping to stop the home side from scoring more.
After Momirovski intercepted a pass from Blake Green, it allowed the Storm to camp inside the ten-metre line.
The scoring continued for Melbourne though, as Brandon Smith picked up from dummy-half from a few metres out and burrowed over the top of Adam Blair to push the Storm past 40-points.
Kenny Bromwich passed his HIA, and returned to field, giving the Storm 14 once again.
Despite the heavy scoreline, the Warriors were in the game physically, and had more possession and territory than their opponents, its just the Storm had found that clinical edge they hadn’t quite had the previous six rounds.
The try-scoring continued for the Storm, as Cameron Smith kicked into a huge gap in behind the Warriors for Josh Addo-Carr to chase, and after beating Tuivasa-Sheck to the ball, raced after it and dived on the loose ball to score.
The Storm had the ball in hand in the final minute, but Kenny Bromwich pass to Justin Olam drifted forward and a scrum was called.
The Warriors ran the ball into the tackle in the final seconds, as the Storm moved to third.
FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 50-6 New Zealand Warriors
Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Olam, Momirovski, Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, J. Bromwich, C. Smith, Welch, Kaufusi, K. Bromwich, Finucane
Interchanges: B. Smith, Faasuamaleaui, Eisenhuth, Asofa-Solomona
Tries: Momirovski (2), Vunivalu(3), Papenhuyzen(2), B. Smith, Addo-Carr
Goals: C. Smith (7/9)
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert, Hiku, Beale, Maumalo, Nikorima, Green, Blair, Lawton, Faamausili, Murchie, Papa’i’i, Harris
Interchanges: Taunoa-Brown, Harris-Tavita, Paasi, Curren
Goals: Harris-Tavita (1/1)
Referee: B. Cummins
Touch Judges: C. Sutton, D. Oultram
Video Referee: B. Norris
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)