A gutsy Melbourne side walked away from Mount Smart Stadium last weekend with two competition points, while maintaining their place atop the NRL ladder – but not before the Warriors exposed some chinks in their armour.
Sure, the Storm proved a touch too good for the Warriors – lead chiefly by their 7 and 9 in Cooper Cronk & Cameron Smith – but the Sharks will take solace in knowing the hosts went very close to spoiling the Melbourne party in Round 3.
Here’s three things we learned last Sunday, that will stand to favour the Sharks on Monday night.
You can’t go ‘through’ Melbourne – the edges are the place to attack.
The Sharks tried to go set-for-set with the Storm the last time the sides met, and it didn’t work.
Melbourne, although renowned for their ability to slow and control the ruck, were exposed on the edges last week – this a factor no doubt Shane Flanagan and his men will look to exploit on Monday.
Tui Lolohea last week crossed for the Warriors in a fashion that would have left Storm Coach Craig Bellamy a little more than disappointed.
Second-rower turn centre Tohu Harris was done for speed by the hosts’ outside backs; the big man left clutching at air before Lolohea got his side back into the contest.
Harris again was the man in question as Kata burrowed over for a second-half try, in proving that a man out of position is one that must be asked to do plenty of work in defence.
Jack Bird lines up against Harris this week, and with Valentine Holmes on his outside, watch for the Sharks to be sending plenty of traffic down the Storms’ left edge.
Limiting Cronk & Smith’s time on the ball will go a long way to notching a win.
This one comes as no surprise – opposition coaches and players have been saying it for years.
The less time Cronk and Smith have to do their work, the more likely are the Sharks to walk away with a win on Monday.
Easier said than done, though, watch for Luke Lewis and Wade Graham to lift in defence in looking to shut down the Storm’s key men.
Wrapping up the Bromwich offload is a must.
Jesse Bromwich is a stern runner of the footy, but perhaps it is the more skilful side to his game that stands to hurt the Sharks most on Monday.
Heralded as one of the game’s best front rowers, Bromwich has added an offload to his game, proving a threat to opposition defences who fail to take the ball to ground with the man.
Bromwich proved instrumental in Cameron Munster’s try last weekend, his hit-and-spin at the line before handing off the ball to the speedy fullback enough to earn his side six points.
Flanagan will no doubt be urging his middle men to one; limit Bromwich’s metres but also two; wrap up the arms and the ball.
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