If you want to get close to the Melbourne Storm, everything has to go right.
At AAMI Park on Monday night, just about everything went wrong for the Warriors – after a promising first half– as they fell to a record defeat in the Anzac clash, eventually losing 70-10.
They conceded a staggering thirteen tries, in what ended up as the biggest loss and worst humiliation in the club’s history.
The Warriors had only trailed 16-10 at halftime, but three tries in six minutes early in the second half ended their resistance.
The Storm disappeared out of sight after that, as the Warriors could barely completed a set in the second half.
The visitors were left to rue costly errors in the first half, which gifted two tries to the Melbourne team when the contest was still in the balance.
To compound their nightmare, the Warriors also lost Josh Curran and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to serious injuries.
It was the Storm’s 12th successive win over the Auckland team, a run that dates back to 2015.
The manner of the defeat will be a hammer blow for Nathan Brown’s team, after they competed well in the first period before completely falling away in the second.
The Storm are a brutally efficient machine and once they clicked into gear, there was no respite for the Warriors.
There was a late switch before kick-off, with Jazz Tevaga moving to lock, Josh Curran to the right edge and Bayley Sironen supplanting Eliesa Katoa on the bench.
After a wonderful, poignant Anzac ceremony, the Warriors made a solid start, before an oh-so-typical Melbourne Storm try out of nothing, with Jahrome Hughes finishing a 90 metre counter attack after an unfortunate Ed Kosi spill, with the visitors hot on attack.
That was tough to take, but the Warriors rebounded quickly and a superb flat ball from Chanel Harris-Tavita sent Dallin Watene-Zelezniak across in the corner.
The Warriors then enjoyed their best period of the first half – with some flat passes and dynamic offloads – but an impetuous Reece Walsh kick released some pressure, then another Kosi fumble gifted Xavier Coates a try.
The same unfortunate pattern continued, with Nick Meaney intercepting a risky Shaun Johnson no-look pass, to extend Melbourne’s lead.
But the Warriors didn’t buckle and a superb Johnson chip – and devilish bounce – put Wayde Egan in beside the posts on the half hour mark.
That lifted the Auckland team, though they needed some impressive scrambling defence, with Harris-Tavita then Euan Aitken coming up with vital stops on a flying Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Papenhuyzen penalties either side of halftime extended the Storm’s lead, before Curran limped off with a knee injury.
Things got much worse quickly, as Watene-Zelezniak was stretchered off after an awful collision with Nelson Asofa-Solomona, as he unsuccessfully tried to defuse the prop’s bomb, which was instead collected by Papenhuyzen.
That double blow felt like the end of the road and that was confirmed by Nick Meaney’s try three minutes later, after Walsh had – for the second successive game – sent the kick off long.
Harry Grant powered over, before Coates grabbed three more tries, as things started to get embarrassing, with the Warriors shellshocked and their edges all at sea, before Hughes, then Bromwich, then Justin Olam completed the rout.
Warriors 10 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Wayde Egan tries; Reece Walsh goal)
Storm 70 (Jahrome Hughes 2, Xavier Coates 4, Nick Meaney 2, Ryan Papenhuyzen 2, Harry Grant, Jesse Bromwich, Justin Olam tries; Ryan Papenhuyzen 7 goals, Nick Meaney 2 goals)
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