It's a good thing they don't hand out NRL premierships in round one, otherwise Craig Bellamy and the Melbourne Storm would have an unbreakable grasp on the trophy. The Storm's thrilling season opening victory over Parramatta courtesy of Harry Grant's try in golden point marked the 21st straight year the Storm have won in round one.
It looked for all money they impressive streak would come to an end, trailing 12-6 in the second half after the Eels dominated play. But the Storm's experience shone through, with the recently re-signed Cameron Munster proving why convincing him to stay in Melbourne had been so crucial.
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Munster had a moment to forget earlier in the second half when a defensive lapse allowed Parramatta's second try, but he would more than make up for it a short time later. A brilliant run from the five-eighth put Young Tonumaipea over to score, with Nick Meaney's conversion levelling the score with 16 minutes to play.
Neither side could gain an advantage before Grant managed to scrabble over the line form dummy-half for the game winner. Rugby league fans already excited about a brilliant game to start the season were left even more stunned by the Storm somehow extending their round one win streak.
The already hobbled Storm will now have to nurse Munster through the opening rounds after he injured his finger in the first half, requiring painkilling injections to see out the game. The Storm can ill afford further additions to their injury list, with the likes of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam, Tariq Sims, Tui Kamikamica and George Jennings all out.
"Just being so gutsy through the whole 80 minutes, I don't think we have been like that as a team for the past 12 months," Bellamy said of the short-handed effort.
"I thought we made some steps forward in that area and hopefully we can keep it up. If we keep showing the fight they did tonight, I am sure we'll be okay."
Craig Bellamy in round one. Give him any roster you want, doesn't matter.
Absolutely incredible win - Parra had all the ball and all the chances and yet once again, the bad guys win ⚡⚡ #NRLEelsStorm
— Matt Bungard (@TheMattBungard) March 2, 2023
The moment the draw came out I thought the streak was over. Probably still thought it for a good hour tonight.
— Glenn Valencich (@glennvalencich) March 2, 2023
Storm winning Round 1 as per tradition for the last time under Bellamy. 😔
— lavender baj (@lavosaurus) March 2, 2023
Incredible club Storm. Keep finding new players and they all learn very quickly how to win.
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) March 2, 2023
Melbourne Storm keep thier winning streak in Rd1 games under Craig Bellamy intact.
Especially beating Parramatta away.
Well done 👏
— Casper (@cats_fan_20) March 2, 2023
Parramatta rue costly errors in Storm loss
The Eels carried injuries of their own, missing several players from last year's grand final, but were ultimately left to rue the missed opprtunity. With scores level at 6-6, it looked as if Josh Hodgson would be the hero for the Eels in the first game for his new club and off the back of an ACL injury at the start of 2022 as he set up Junior Paulo to put them ahead.
But from there, Parramatta blew their chances. Maika Sivo kicked a ball dead on the first tackle when the Eels had a scrum in the Storm's half, while halfback Mitch Moses had a field-goal attempt charged down with four minutes to play.
"I felt like we did enough to win it, but we just didn't execute enough," coach Brad Arthur said. "It's not like a heap of errors, but there were some big moments at the end that we just didn't get right.
"It's not that (Sivo) one in particular, but six or seven minutes to go from a scrum, do we need to try and score? We probably need to build a bit of pressure there, keep it simple and set for a field goal. It doesn't matter if win 18-12 or 13-12 with a field goal."
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