Craig Bellamy has showed why he’s the most sought-after coach in the NRL, with Melbourne outplaying Wayne Bennett’s Brisbane 32-16 in their clash at AAMI Park.
The Broncos hope to lure Bellamy north and while Sunday’s game was far from Melbourne’s best performance of the season, they turned in a huge second half, scoring 24 points, for the Storm coach to extend his head-to-head coaching record to 24-10 over Bennett.
Both teams had three players backing up from State of Origin, with Brisbane centre James Roberts sitting out with achilles soreness and his Storm opposite Will Chambers suspended.
Of the Melbourne players, Cameron Munster took a while to build into the game but scored a crucial 57th-minute try when he ghosted past Broncos skipper Darius Boyd to open a 20-12 lead.
In a scrappy first half, Boyd, who was overlooked for Origin, was one of his team’s best.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith, who also missed Origin after quitting representative football, was also a standout.
With both teams coming off the bye, Boyd looked like he’d put the extended break to good use as he glided through the Storm defence to open the try-scoring.
After the try, Boyd pointed to strapping on his wrist, which bore the letters KW. While it was believed to be in reference to his wife Kayla and daughter Willow, it could also have been a message for Maroons coach Kevin Walters.
Four minutes later, a dropped bomb by Suliasi Vunivalu saw a Broncos scrum 15m out and they sent the ball wide, catching the Storm well short for winger Jamayne Isaako to dive over the line and the visitors to take a 12-2 lead.
Melbourne centre Young Tonumaipea, in his last home game before going on a two-year Mormon mission, closed the gap to 12-8 before halftime when he dragged five Broncos over the line.
Backing up from Origin, Felise Kaufusi split the defence to score, with his converted try giving the home side the lead with Munster’s effort opening it up to eight points.
Brisbane hit back in the 63rd minute, with Jordan Kahu again finding space out wide, but their fightback stalled when Vunivalu ended his four-game try-scoring drought off a Munster bomb.
Jahrome Hughes, replacing injured fullback Billy Slater, then finished off the match, with Munster again in the thick of the action.
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