Bulldogs grab moral victory, but Melbourne take the two points as Storm overcome Foxx hat trick in comeback win


Cameron Ciraldo must wonder what to say to his players at times like this.

Against the best teams in the league, Canterbury have performed superbly but, largely lost: away at Parramatta, Cronulla and now Melbourne, who picked up a 16-14 win at AAMI Park that could very well have gone the other way.

From the 20th minute until the 70th, the Bulldogs were the better side, recording seven consecutive line breaks, making mincemeat of one of the best defences in the comp and turning a 12-0 deficit into a 14-12 lead.

Josh Addo-Carr scored a hat trick, Bronson Xerri was purring in the centres and Matt Burton pulling the strings with hand and boot. Melbourne had no answer – until, of course, they did.

Having scored early through Ryan Papenhuyzen and added to it through Reimis Smith – with a huge thank you to another Xavier Coates miracle – the Storm then seemingly put the cue in the rack.

Craig Bellamy fumed in the box but seemed incapable of turning the tide against a Doggies team that attacked with abandon.

It was remarkably like their smash-and-grab win on the same turf last year. Addo-Carr returned to haunt his former employers with three exceptional tries, including a trademark effort from distance and two when the game was 12-a-side due to bins for Sam Hughes and Papenhuyzen.

The fullback was sent for a professional foul, the Dogs forward for a head slam that might draw the ire of the judiciary as it is his second citation in two weeks.

In the end, it took a late Shawn Blore score to settle it. The Storm won, because they always do, but Bellamy will not be happy for a second.

Ciraldo, again, will be happy with almost everything – except that, of course, his side lost.

Once the Foxx got the football, no one was stopping him! ????????

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Canterbury grab another moral victory

It says a lot about the Bulldogs at the moment that they look more likely to score from their own 20 than the opposition’s.

Plenty of criticism has been aimed at Drew Hutchison for his perceived lack of suitability in the halfback role, and it was noticeable that Bailey Hayward, who was on NRL debut but has played all his lower grades in the halves, appeared in the first half.

Normally you’d expect a half on the bench to come on late to add some spark late on, but Hayward was thrown in early and given plenty to do.

That in itself might be an admission that Ciraldo knows where his side are lacking. They need an extra playmaker.

There’s an argument that they do have one, Toby Sexton, who is playing reserve grade, and the logic behind Hutchison’s selection does get less understandable as the weeks go by.

That said, the Dogs are getting so good at going from deep that it doesn’t matter.


The bulldogs leveled the score, and look DANGEROUS. ????

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They even brought back the crossfield kick from Burton to Addo-Carr – a trademark of the Mick Potter era – and combined that with a lethal left edge that has been brewing all year.

It’s taken four years and four rounds for Xerri to come back to first grade but this was his reminder to the league of what he is capable of, with multiple strong carries and some smart hands when required.

His return to the side allows the Dogs to shift Crichton to the right, which in turn evens up a clear imbalance in the attack, which had skewed a lot to the left previously.

Tonight, it got the best trio they had against the weakest part of the Storm’s defence, where Will Warbrick was continually shredded.

It’ll be interesting to see what Ciraldo does next week. He had his hand forced by injury, but appears to have found a balance that works.

The Storm get away with it

Melbourne were seriously rattled by the Dogs after the break, with clear questions about their right edge defence that plenty of other teams will have noticed.

Canterbury are good going that way, with the Foxx, Burton and Viliame Kikau, but they didn’t have to be superb to make hay.

It is sometimes unfair to single out one player for the issues, but there was a noticeable difference in what Xavier Coates was able to do on the left with what Warbrick was attempting to do on the right.

The former rugby union man had little idea of when he was meant to come and when he was meant to go, leading to him being stuck under the ball on some occasions and simply bypassed on others by a razor sharp Bulldogs.

Melbourne fire back with a great response and tie the game! ????

Who gets the W? ????

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Warbrick brings a lot in attack, particularly in set starts, but there have to be questions about how he defends.

Beyond that, the Storm have got plenty to offer. Once again, this was a game that they managed to turn around late, in which they didn’t play enormously well but won anyway.

Their attack is still coming but when you have weapons like Coates to pass towards, Papenhuyzen coming out of the back and guys like Harry Grant, Cam Munster and Jahrome Hughes in the middle, it’s hard to believe that it won’t eventually get there.

That they’re winning en route should stand them in very good stead.

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