The Melbourne Storm have stunned the Dyldam Parramatta Eels with an 18-6 win on Monday night at Pirtek Stadium in Parramatta.
The Storm started the game strong with the halves controlling the game early as they chose to kick early in the sets.
The Eels responded with sharp attack as they welcomed back their Captain Kieran Foran who together with Corey Norman, controlled the team in attack.
The Melbourne Storm were the first on the board after having back to back sets, when Suliasi Vunivalu crossed in the corner in the 7th minute. Cameron Smith was unable to convert as the visitors led 4-0.
The defence from the Eels proved to be strong as they continued to hold Melbourne out. A ‘no try’ was awarded to the Storm after Cooper Cronk grounded the ball in the in goal but was ruled to have pushed Manu Ma’U out of the way. A penalty was awarded to the Eels in the 12th minute.
It was a worrying sign for the blue and gold as Beau Scott headed up the tunnel soon after with a corked thigh.
While the Eels looked dangerous in aspects of their attack, their completions started to drop as a result of stray offloads.
The Eels fans were thrilled to have Kieran Foran back and it didn’t take him long to make his mark as he made a break up the field in the 19th minute. Corey Norman put up a bomb in the next play and while Clint Gutherson knocked it back, Michael Gordon was ruled to have knocked it on before Brad Takairangi picked it up to cross the line as the Eels were awarded a no try.
When the Eels did make it to their fifth tackle options, the Storm had it covered each time and defused the opportunity as the home side struggled to cross the line.
Melbourne continued to look strong in attack, however the scrambling defence from the Eels kept turning up and holding them out.
The 25th minute saw Corey Norman send Semi Radradra down the left wing in what looked like a try scoring opportunity but Cameron Munster produced a try saving tackle and charge down to force a knock on and change over.
Minutes later and Radradra looked to have scored through a magnificent mid air catch off a perfectly placed Foran cross-field kick, but Munster was there again in defence for the Storm.
The visitors were in again in the 33rd minute when Marika Koroibete was on the end of a great set play from the Storm as they managed to find some space on the right wing. Smith was unsuccessful with a second conversion as the score extended to 8-0.
Manu Ma’u was saving tries again as the bunker over turned the on field decision of try as he was able to hold up the Storm over the line. The Eels were able to hold the Storm out as they took an 8-0 lead into the break.
The second half started well for the Eels as they forced an error in the 47th minute from the Storm.
A penalty and goal line drop out allowed the Eels to build some pressure off back-to-back sets, however the Storm defence continued to be relentless.
Possession swung the way of the home side however the blue and gold were unable to convert it into much needed points.
The Storm forced a line drop out in the 62nd minute as the Eels had to defend back-to-back sets.
It proved costly for the Eels as Vunivalu was in for his second try when he stretched out for the line in the 64th minute to extend Melbourne’s lead to 12-0. Smith added the extras as the Storm took a 14-0 lead with 15 minutes of the game remaining.
Desperation started to set in from the Eels as they made a strong break down the field but continued to force unnecessary passes as Semi’s offload hit the deck and was collected by the Storm 20 metres out.
A penalty to the Storm then gifted the visitors some more attac’sking field position, which resulted in another line drop out.
The pressure seemed too much for Parramatta as Cheyse Blair was on the receiving end of a Cooper Cronk short pass which created space on the left wing for Melbourne’s third try of the evening. Smith was unsuccessful from the sideline as the Storm led by 18 with eight minutes remaining.
A late surge from the Eels saw some opportunities for the home side to put some points on the board through back-to-back sets in the 77th minute, however the Storm’s defence continued to hold out anything the Eels threw at them.
It took 78 minutes for the Eels to finally find the line when Michael Jennings was on the receiving end of a grubber kick from Kieran Foran. Michael Gordon converted just as the final buzzer sounded as the Eels were defeated by the Storm 18 points to 6.
Melbourne Storm - 18 (Vunivalu 2, Koroibete, Blair. Conversions: Smith 1/4)
Parramatta Eels - 6 (Jennings. Conversions: Gordon 1/1)