Electric Eels too good for depleted Storm
MELBOURNE Storm had no business challenging Parramatta at AAMI Park.
But battered, bruised and severely undermanned Storm refused to relent under fierce Eels attack.
The Eels made their intentions clear from the start, scoring three tries inside 25 minutes to establish a 16-0 lead.
Storm arrested the momentum towards the break when Jahrome Hughes scored but the damage was done, the Eels closing out the 22-6 victory.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy rued the slow start.
"I thought we were dipping the toe in a touch, or a fair bit, and it cost us dearly,” Bellamy said.
"The last 50 minutes (of the match) there wasn't much in it at all, obviously the start of the game really cost us.
"I know we had a lot of players out tonight but the six players we got out, they just don't go out every week on their own and play.
"These guys have got a lot to do with where we are and what we've done this year.
"We just need them to do that every week, it doesn't matter who's playing with us.”
State of Origin stars Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Tim Glasby and Cameron Munster were sorely missed, while enforcer Jordan McLean (hamstring) was out injured.
"It was always probably going to be a tough ask tonight, without a doubt, but we didn't give ourselves a chance,” Bellamy said.
"I think Radradra had probably 120m up in the first five minutes, we didn't practice that during the week, we practised a couple of other things to try and restrict his metres but we didn't do it.”
Injuries and errors proved costly for Storm, whose rotations were hampered in the first half with Suliasi Vunivalu (sin bin for a professional foul), Cheyse Blair (ankle) and Slade Griffin (head knock) spending time off the field.
Vunivalu and Griffin returned, but Bellamy ruled out Blair for the rest of the season after the centre re-injured his surgically repaired right ankle.
"I don't think we'll see Cheyse again this year,” Bellamy said.
"I'm not quite sure what's gone wrong (with the ankle), whether it's a new injury or whether (the pin he had inserted) hasn't stayed in. It's bad news.”