Storm survive serious scare from energetic Eels, confirm home prelim

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By , Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    In a fitting celebration of the three hundred and fifty-six game career of Cameron Smith, the Melbourne Storm have ground out a wonderful win against the Parramatta Eels, despite being pushed to the brink.

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    Three tries apiece gives a fair indication of the close nature of the game yet there was something a little special about the performance of the Storm in the second half.

    Parramatta began the game well and tried to use line speed to pressure the clinical Melbourne attack, which started with seven line breaks early and looked to have the contest under control.

    However, the Eels were able to weather that storm before starting to impart their own frantic tempo on the contest and take control of the last twenty minutes of the first half.

    The sin-binning of Cameron Munster, after a professional foul, aided their cause and the visitors were able to convert on the scoreboard and take the lead going into the break.

    Completion rates would have been the focus of Craig Bellamy at half-time, as his side were sitting at an abysmal 64.7 per cent after managing to fumble their way through a pressurised half were the Eels consistently challenged them.

    The Eels needed to replicate their impressive ball control from the first-half in the second and continue to pressure the Storm yet things panned out very differently to what coach Arthur had laid out for his troops.

    The Storm found their mojo and began completing sets with more regularity and the Eels began coughing the ball up in poor field position.

    The Storm were able to take advantage with two second half tries and a penalty goal before the Eels hit back late with a try that kept the contest close, right up to the final whistle.

    All in all, the kicking games of both teams were poor and the ball control stats will be an issue for both coaches.

    Melbourne now take a break and rest for a week, potentially sharpening up their attack that looked a little rusty or clunky against the Eels.

    For the visitors, they await their opponent for next weekend. If they reproduce the effort they showed today, they would consider themselves a good chance of advancing into a third week of the finals.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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