Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has praised his player�s professionalism, following today�s 34-6 drubbing of the St George Illawarra Dragons at Olympic Park.
In a virtually faultless display, the Storm opened its 2004 National Rugby League account in emphatic style, recording a six tries-to-one win over its hapless Sydney rivals, to post its first victory of the season.
Led by its talented younger brigade including halfback Matt Orford and winger Steve Turner � who claimed a double on debut for Melbourne - the Storm made amends for last week�s ten-point loss to the Knights with a polished performance.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy highlighted his side�s professionalism following the Storm�s workmanlike performance against the Dragons.
�I thought it was a pretty professional performance,� Bellamy said.
�The thing I was really happy about was that we kept our composure, we kept doing what works for us, we didn�t look to take shortcuts or look for any miracle plays.�
Up 12-6 at the halftime break, some timely advice from Bellamy put his team on the straight and narrow to victory.
Bellamy asked his charges to run hard and straight and the tip paid dividends, centre Ben MacDougall and bearded prop Kirk Reynoldson, in particular, taking heed of the coach�s advice.
�I just thought at halftime when we were down on their line, we were worrying about the play too much or worrying about the offload too much,� Bellamy added.
�We needed to just roll our sleeves up and run hard.
�I thought MacDougall was leading the way there for us, when he ran hard a few times he put some dints in them. Certainly (Kirk) Reynoldson and (Peter) Robinson just got the ball under their arms and ran hard.�
It was all Melbourne in the opening 20 minutes of the match and after continued pressure, Storm centre Matt King finally sliced through some soft St George Illawarra defence to score his first try of the season.
Five-eighth Scott Hill slipped King an inside ball which saw the rangy centre cross after seven minutes.
Five minutes later halfback Matt Orford attempted to slam the ball over the tryline only to be ruled to have knocked-on by the video referee.
But Melbourne�s momentum swiftly ground to a halt when Dragons centre Matt Cooper darted through some flimsy defence to score the visitor�s first and only four pointer. Mark Riddell successfully converted a penalty goal one minute later following a high shot from Storm prop Alex Chan.
Storm hooker Cameron Smith returned the favour by converting a penalty goal of his own, to put Melbourne ahead again, and a try to Turner four minutes out from the halftime break, gave the home side a 12-6 advantage.
St George Illawarra had few opportunities in the second half, but desperate Storm defence, including a last-gasp Matt Orford ankle tap on speedster Nathan Blacklock, prevented the Dragons from adding to their first half score.
The Storm�s commitment paid off when winger Dustin Cooper scored in the corner following a move that saw the ball pass through five sets of hands.
The onslaught continued when MacDougall picked up the scraps of a loose ball to crash over from close range.
The former Manly centre continued his impressive performance of non-strop running until the final whistle - one such effort helping to set up speedster Turner for his second try.
Matt Orford�s effortless try two minutes out from fulltime completed a successful afternoon for the home side.
The win takes Melbourne into third place on the NRL ladder with next week�s match against the Broncos in Brisbane the first of two successive away games.
DRAGONS 6 Tries: Matt Cooper 1 Goals: Mark Riddell 1/2
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James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]