Storm secure NRL minor premiership - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm secure NRL minor premiership

By Steve Jancetic 24/08/2007 11:06:41 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne have flexed their considerable muscle to secure back-to-back NRL minor premierships with a 38-6 victory over the Bulldogs, but Storm skipper Cameron Smith said it would all be for nothing if they didn't go on with the job.

The Storm showed just why they have been regarded as the benchmark all season as they racked up an impressive six tries to one win, the visitors putting their foot on the pedal late in the game.

The Bulldogs trailed just 8-6 close to the hour, but four tries in 11 minutes, including a hat-trick to teenage sensation Israel Folau, put the Bulldogs' top-four hopes in jeopardy and secured a second straight JJ Giltinan Shield for the Storm.

But Smith said he and his team-mates had their eyes on a greater prize.

"The big lesson we learned last year was that it doesn't really matter if you get the minor premiership," Smith said of the Storm losing last year's decider to Brisbane.

"As soon as next week's over it's a whole other season.

"It doesn't matter if you finish first or eighth, you're a chance of winning the big one."

The man most pleased with the late surge was coach Craig Bellamy, who admitted he feared his men had lost some of their mojo.

But it came roaring back against the 'Dogs, with Billy Slater - who scored the opening four-pointer - starting the rot when he sent Matt Geyer over in the 58th minute with a two-man cut-out pass.

On the next set, Smith got in on the act when he burst out of dummy half, the Test No.9 looking like he had butchered a try when he had ignored Slater who loomed on the outside in support.

But on the following play Cooper Cronk kicked the ball out for Folau to score and they repeated the dose five minutes later before the towering centre made it a hat-trick nine minutes later when he showed too much strength to go over under the posts.

"It's been slowly but surely coming, I thought last week while we weren't great with the footy we defended really well in a pretty high intensity game against Parramatta ... I don't think we've been that far off it," Bellamy said.

"All teams have a bit of a down period at some stage of the year, but I don't want to be too hard on these guys, they've only lost three games all year."

As for Folau, who took his tally to 20 for the season to better Slater's mark of 19 in his rookie campaign in 2003, Bellamy admitted he didn't know how far he could go.

"He's had a pretty tough couple of weeks against good opposition, two guys that have played for Australia and two guys that have played for their states in State of Origin," Bellamy said.

"You just give him a couple of things to practice on during the week and he can do them on the field ... nothing overawes him too much."

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes took some heart from the loss, the home side able to keep pace with the Storm through the opening hour despite a litany of dropped balls.

"I'm not feeling all warm and fuzzy but I'm not about to cut my throat either," Folkes said of the loss.

"I didn't think the margin was as big as that and I saw enough tonight to suggest that there's better days ahead I guess."

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