The top of the table beckoned for the Melbourne Storm as they started their round fourteen match against the lowly Wests Tigers. The form book, pundits, ladder and bookies were all predicting a big Melbourne victory but Michael McGuire needed to stop the rot and where better than against one of the best sides in the competition.
The Storm made three changes from last time with Christian Welch, George Jennings and elson Asofa-Solomona into their side in place of Jesse Bromwich, Marion Seve and Trent Loiero. Wests had two changes with Ken Maumalo and Moses Bye in for Adam Doueihi and Billy Walters.
Just over two minutes had elapsed before Melbourne set out their stall. After making ninety metres on their first set they got another set and on the first tackle of that set Brandon Smith scooted from acting half-back for a trademark hooker try. Nicholas Hynes, after passing a late fitness test, added the conversion. The Storm were up and running, it looked ominous.
Two minutes later Storm went the length of the field for their second when Hynes and Josh Addo-Carr played a one-two, the full-back going over for the second. Hynes added the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Just before the ten-minute mark Cameron Munster wrestled with the defence to force the ball to the ground for the third Melbourne try and when Hynes added the conversion it was 18-0, Wests looking down the barrel of a massacre.
The fourth try came on thirteen when Darrel Funicane took a Smith short pass to go over by the sticks from first receiver. Hynes added the conversion from under the uprights, the points were already in the bag, now it was simply a matter of how many points they’d run in.
On fifteen minutes, and with the Tigers having had the ball for less than a dozen plays, Nelson Asofa-Solomona charged the line and pushed his way past a couple of feeble tackles to ground. Hynes added the kick for 30-0, Melbourne scoring at two points a minute.
It took thirteen minutes until the Tigers line was breached again, this time Reimis Smith being on hand to take the pass on the overlap and cross in the corner. Hynes was again accurate with the boot for 36-0 with thirty minutes on the clock.
Maintaining the point-a-minute tally in the first half Kaufusi took a reverse pass to push two tacklers over the line and ground the ball for 40-0, Hynes missing the conversion but more than happy at a fantastic first half effort.
Two minutes into the second half and it was normal service resumed as Jarome Hughes took a quick tap, ran through a Tigers defence in disarray, and dove over the line. Hynes was back on target, Melbourne four points short of the fifty.
On forty-four, directly from the restart, the Storm broke downfield and a neat George Jennings kick inside was collected by Reimis Smith to shrug off a tackle and dot the ball down. One worry for Melbourne was an injury picked up by Smith in the act of scoring. Hynes pulled his conversion in front of the sticks.
The tenth try came on forty-eight, Tom Eisenhuth chiming out of the line after fast passing hands to take a Hughes pass and ground to become the ninth separate try scorer. Hynes was again wide of the uprights but there was no stopping a Storm side in sensational form.
It was 58-0 on forty-nine, Harry Grant collecting his own ricocheted kick through to ground. Hynes conversion brought up the sixty, the Tigers looking utterly exhausted and disgusted.
Wests avoided the whitewash when Tommy Talau took a pass from Dane Laurie, stepping off the left foot to wrongfoot the defence. Luke Brooks added the goal to bring up a 60-6 score line.
Asofa-Solomona was sin-binned on sixty-five for a high tackle, but it would have no effect on the outcome of the game. On the next play Luke Garner ran a good line to take the pass and sprint in from twenty metres out. Brooks added the conversion to bring up double figures.
Hughes scored a terrific solo try on seventy, dancing through the Tigers defence and avoiding five attempted tackles to score under the sticks. Hynes added the conversion to bring up 66-12.
David Nofoaluma added a third try on seventy-seven when he went over in the wing to take the game totals through the eighty points. Brooks was unable to convert the try, Tigers losing by 66-16 in a game which they will quickly wish to forget.
Although they did stifle the second half scoring, the Tigers had a nightmare of a game and were never in it from the first hooter. They only lost the second half by ten points as Melbourne eased off to leave the scoring records, which seemed in jeopardy earlier in the game, eventually unmolested. Melbourne go back to the top of the pile, the Tigers remaining deep in the bottom half of the table.
Melbourne Storm: Hynes (T, 9G), Jennings, Smith R (2T), Olam, Addo-Carr, Munster (T), Hughes (2T), Asofa-Solomona (T), Smith B (T), Kamikamica, Kaufusi (T), Eisenhuth (T), Funicane (T). Subs: Welch, Grant (T), Lewis, Pene. 18th: Ieremia.
Wests Tigers: Laurie, Nofoaluma (T), Talau (T), Roberts, Maumalo, Mbye, Brooks (2G), Tamou, Liddle, Twal, Garner (T), Leilua, Ofahengaue. Subs: Utoikamanu, Blore, Amone, Seyfarth. 18th: Kam.
Referee: Gerrard Sutton.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0, 28-0, 30-0, 34-0, 36-0, 40-0 : HT : 44-0, 46-0, 50-0, 54-0, 58-0, 60-0, 60-4, 60-6, 60-10, 60-12, 64-12, 66-12, 66-16 : FT.