Any lingering doubts about the lack of a pre-season for Melbourne were allayed on Saturday night as the Storm trounced the Newcastle Knights 30-10.
In what is their only hit-out before they kick off the 2021 NRL season on March 11, the Storm put on a clinical display at the Albury Sports Ground, scoring four unanswered tries in eye-catching fashion to start the match.
The defensive side of the ball was the most impressive part of the game for the men in purple, who restricted their opponents to just 10 points for the match.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said the team didn’t start the match how he would have liked but worked their way into the contest.
“I thought we started a bit sloppy,” Bellamy said.
“But I thought we done a good job with our contact (but) a couple of tries came down our left hand side.”
The Storm picked up right where they left off last season, restricting the Knights to a single try for 79 minutes of the game. The Knights crossed the line in the dying stages saw them narrow the margin to 20 points on the full time siren.
Ever the perfectionist, Bellamy said his side shouldn’t have conceded the late try.
“That last one, we basically had a few guys there that were out of position,” the coach explained.
“But having said that, we still expect those guys to defend that, but overall I thought our defense was pretty good.”
The only damper for the reigning premiers was an injury to Harry Grant, who limped off early in the second half. Bellamy said after the match he expects the exciting 23-year-old to miss at least a month.
“He has done a medial and I doubt he is going to be ready for round one,” Bellamy said after the match.
“I am not quite sure, but he’s probably going to be out for three to four weeks.
“We will scan him and we will see how he progresses in the next 10 days.”
While the news wasn’t great for Grant, 24-year-old Kiwi Brandon Smith looks the most likely to step up into the starting 13.
Bellamy said Smith’s versatility will come in handy if he is to debut against the Rabbitohs in just over a week’s time.
“Brandon was really good when he went to that position today,” Bellamy said.
“He’s a very handy player Brandon as he can play in the ruck and adds a lot of energy. I am sure he will do a good job if he gets the chance on Thursday week.”