By Ryan Selvage
1. Melbourne’s wrestle is as good as it gets.
No team in the NRL comes under more scrutiny for their wrestle on the ground than the Storm – but that didn’t stop them from working the Sharks over, time and time again, on Monday night.
Inspired by captain Cameron Smith, the Melbourne side went about slowing the Cronulla play-the-ball down, and their control over the game’s tempo proved to be the catalyst for the 28-point victory.
2. The Sharks missed a bigger body.
Having been in stellar form in recent weeks, but missing the Storm clash due to suspension, Sam Tagataese’s absence was certainly telling as the Sharks struggled to bend the Melbourne defensive line backwards.
Coupled with the absence of the Fifita twins and Luke Lewis spending a large part of the match on the sideline, Melbourne proved all too strong in the middle third – highlighted by tries to Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane.
3. Melbourne asserted themselves as a genuine premiership threat.
It seems each year as the weather warms, so too do the Storm to the task of staking their claims as a genuine contender in the NRL competition.
Lead by Smith and Cooper Cronk, and well supported by the ever-developing Cameron Munster and a rejuvenated Blake Green, Melbourne took to the Sharks’ challenge and came out on top – a feat by no means easy to achieve in recent months.
4. The Sharks’ fifth tackle option needs to improve.
While Melbourne consistently kicked to find space and built pressure via repeat sets, some of the Cronulla fifth play options would have disappointed coach Shane Flanagan.
It is without doubt an area of the game that the leading teams manage to get right and if the Sharks are to seal a finals berth, and be a genuine threat therein, they must improve.
5. The quick Monday-to-Saturday turn around stands to benefit Paul Gallen’s men.
In the post-match press conference, Sharks captain Paul Gallen insisted that he and the side will be out to atone for the Round 23 defeat when they host the Tigers and that the quick turn around will work in favour of Cronulla.
The skipper said that after an underwhelming performance it is imperative the Sharks get back to winning ways – and quickly – with Saturday’s Round 24 clash with the Wests Tigers the perfect opportunity to make amends for the heavy loss to the Storm.