Bulldogs too big, too strong for inexperienced Storm

Melbourne Storm are a young side and their inexperience was exploited by the stronger, faster Canterbury Bulldogs at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Playing without injured stars Cameron Munster, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam and Xavier Coates, the Storm lacked polish in attack and power on their edges, which aided the Bulldogs in building a 26-0 lead before claiming a 26-12 win in front of 17,248 fans.

Playmakers Matt Burton and Kyle Flanagan guided their powerful backline well and the Storm were too often beaten out wide during the Bulldogs’ dominant opening 50 minutes.

But the spirit shown in the last half hour, as Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Eliesa Katoa and playmakers Harry Grant and Jahrome Hughes lifted the Storm, is something for Craig Bellamy’s team to build on as they will be missing players for several more weeks at best.

Worryingly, Asofa-Solomona was forced off in the second half with a leg injury, and the Storm will hope he comes up fine as they can’t afford to be without his drive and power.

Bulldogs second-rower Villame Kikau blotted an otherwise strong performance by being placed on report for tripping in the final minutes and was sent to the sin bin.

The Bulldogs pushed forward early as hooker Reed Mahoney threw a short pass to Jacob Preston who powered through a gap to score.

Young Tonumaipea forced an early turnover and give the right edge some much-needed leadership early, but he was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after tackling a player without the ball during a linebreak.

The Bulldogs quickly took advantage attacking the right and quickly coming up with a second try with winger Jacob Kiraz diving over to put his club up 10-0.

The Storm’s attack lacked polish and they struggled to retain possession or field position which soon saw them concede again as their left edge gave former Storm premiership winger Josh Addo-Carr room to bolt down the sideline and score after some rapid passing from his Bulldogs teammates.

The Bulldogs’ Josh Addo-Carr scores a try against his former side.Credit:Getty Images

The 16-0 half-time deficit could have been worse had Kikau’s try in the final minute been allowed, but it was ruled out for an earlier infringement.

Perhaps they would have wanted more points after 57 per cent of possession, 26 missed tackles from Storm and a whopping 26 tackle breaks in the first 40 minutes.

Canterbury opened the first half determined to kill off the contest and they did that authoritatively as Kiraz overpowered his defenders to reach over and score his second try before centre Jake Averillo scored minutes later to make it 26-0.

Asofa-Solomona gave home fans something to cheer about on 54 minutes when he shrugged off two defenders and drove over the try line to cut it to 26-6 but the big forward soon limped off with a leg injury and didn’t return.

Jahrome Hughes goes over for a Storm try in the loss to the Bulldogs.Credit:Getty Images

Katoa hadn’t had the best opening hour but he burst into the game with two powerful runs that laid the platform for Hughes to scurry in for a try to make it 26-12 with 20 minutes to play.

Former North Queensland winger Kane Bradley, who joined the Storm on a train-and-trial deal, made his club debut in the final minutes, becoming Storm player No.228.

The Storm play Gold Coast Titans on the Gold Coast next Saturday at 3pm AEDT.

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