SportNo Slater, no problem as Storm show Broncos who's boss in NRL opener
Seibold's show of faith in Broncos' Pangai
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold has backed Tevita Pangai Junior to slot straight back into the Broncos' NRL round one side despite his injury-hit pre-season. But Seibold has backed the 23-year-old to run out, or at least start on the bench, in Melbourne next Thursday after fears of serious injury were allayed. "From our rehab and medical staff he will be (fit to play) ... they don't have any concerns," Seibold said. "I think Tevita's proven himself to be an NRL player, so if he's fit and available he'll be in that 17 somewhere.
Some faces have changed at Melbourne Storm but they put on a classic defensive display to take down the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park on Thursday night in front of 16,239 fans.
New fullback Jahrome Hughes was energetic in his first run since Billy Slater’s retirement scoring the opening try in his club's 22-12 win over the underwhelming Broncos.
The visitors lost James Roberts to what looked like a painful back injury and face a nervous wait as to whether Matt Lodge is cited for a late hit on Cameron Munster.
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"I might chance my mind tomorrow when I look at the tape but I thought Jahrome was our best player tonight, he was outstanding," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.'
"He was effective with a lot of things that he did. His test will be to be consistent with that."
At the core of the Storm's win was their defence. They repeatedly denied the visitors chances, keeping them scoreless in the opening hour before two Corey Oates tries put new life into the contest, those scores aside the Broncos hardly had a sniff of the line.
The Storm couldn't have asked for a better start to the season as they forced several repeat sets in the opening minutes as the Broncos gave away penalties in the face of the home side’s attack.
How a Craig Bellamy spray set straight new Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes
"He just needed a little reminder."
Broncos prop Matt Lodge was hearing boos every time he touched the ball and they only got louder when he hit Munster after he kicked on the first set. Whether the hit is worthy of further punishment will answered on Friday.
Hughes was in the spotlight all week as Billy Slater's replacement at fullback and it was in front of the newly named "Slater Stand" that Hughes ran over to score the club’s first try on four minutes.
Hughes might not have been the Storm's first choice at but he proved the right man for the right moment.
Roberts went off soon after wasn't seen again.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold said Roberts was still hurting post game and he didn't carry any back issues into the game.
"Jimmy is not real flash to be fair - he hurt a disk in his back in his first carry," Seibold said.
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"That hurt us a bit and had an impact on our interchanges.
"We will see how Jimmy pulls up and get the doctor to assess him.
"He was still in a bit of agony, he's not laying down or anything."
The Storm's attack wasn't as cutting-edge as fans might expect but their defence was firing well. The Broncos struggled to create much in the few times they had possession in the opening 15 minutes.
Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu showed his side's defensive sharpness when his heavy tackle knocked the ball into the path of Curtis Scott, who ran from 55 minutes out to score the second try.
Felise Kaufusi should have added a third after running onto a perfect grubber kick but he fumbled the ball as he attempted to ground it and was furious with himself.
The Broncos looked a team under siege and couldn’t get hands on the ball but, despite looking tired from extended defensive stands, the visitors rode a few close calls to keep the score at 10-0 at half-time.
Lodge under fire for ugly 'cheap shot'
Broncos forward Matt Lodge was on the receiving end of criticism after a 'cheap shot' on Storm star Cameron Munster.
Melbourne’s attack looked sharper after the break and seven minutes in Munster drew in Kodi Nikorima and dished off to Kenny Bromwich for a try and a 16-0 lead.
Against the run of play the Broncos scored their first as a flowing move to the left created space for Corey Oates to score in the corner cutting the lead to 16-6.
Oates had his second minutes later after Jesse Bromwich’s offload went into his arms before he beat three chases to make it 16-12 with 16 minutes to play.
But Bromwich made up for his error minutes later, pulling out a surprising step and dummy before sliding into score.
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Storm centre Tom Eisenhuth came on with eight minutes to go for his club debut. His last game was in 2012 with Penrith Panthers before injuries sidelined him.
The Storm play Canberra Raiders in Canberra next Friday night while the Broncos host North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium on the same night.
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