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Storm crush Cronulla 38-6 in NRL

Gareth Widdop

Skipper Cameron Smith finished a disappointing week in fine style as he led the Melbourne Storm to a crushing 38-6 win over Cronulla in his 250th NRL game.
Storm crush Cronulla 38-6 in NRL
by AAP

By Melissa Woods

MELBOURNE, June 9 AAP - Skipper Cameron Smith finished a disappointing week in fine style as he led the Melbourne Storm to a crushing 38-6 win over Cronulla in his 250th NRL game.

Backing up from Queensland's State of Origin loss to NSW on Wednesday night, Smith was one of the stars of his milestone game at AAMI Park as the Storm wrapped up the match by halftime with five unanswered tries for a 28-0 lead.

Another Maroon, Cooper Cronk, was instrumental, with a hand in each of those tries as he made amends for a below-par kicking game in Origin.

He schooled his opposite Jeff Robson a lesson with boot, the Sharks' kicking game terrible.

Cronk orchestrated the first try with a soaring 40-20 that put Cronulla under pressure, while bombs dropped by fullback Michael Gordon and winger Sosaia Feki led to their next two tries.

The Sharks, on a four-game winning streak heading into the match, had NSW Origin players Luke Lewis and Andrew Fifita backing up, with the pair starting off the bench.

Fifita got through a mountain of tackles while Lewis also gave his all.

Their NSW captain Paul Gallen was rubbed out of the game after punching Queensland's Nate Myles during Origin and watched from the sidelines.

The Sharks had no answer to the rampant Storm, who showed they were well and truly over their mini form slump.

While their attack was devastating, coach Craig Bellamy will be equally delighted with their defence in keeping the Sharks from scoring until the 77th minute, when Beau Ryan finally broke the duck.

As well as Cronk, Queensland fullback Billy Slater played himself to a standstill.

He was unlucky not to get across the line in the first half before he touched down in the 59th minute and was rewarded with an early shower.

Centre Maurice Blair opened the scoring for the home side in the ninth minute and then the points flowed with NSW Origin star Ryan Hoffman, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris and Gareth Widdop all crossing before the halftime hooter.

Justin O'Neill picked up where they left off after Widdop dropped it on his toe as he was tackled for the Melbourne winger to scoop up to score.

Slater's was the seventh and final Storm try for the night.

It was one of Widdop's best performances, with the five-eighth saying the side was determined to give Smith the win he deserved.

Sharks stand-in skipper Wade Graham said it was almost impossible to pin back a side like the Storm once they were on a roll.

"They took us to school pretty early in that first half and once they get out to a lead like that it's hard to reel them in," Graham said.

"They were on at the start and we were a bit off.

"We've got to get back to Cronulla and take our medicine and get ready for Parramatta (on Saturday)."

Smith said he couldn't have asked for anything more from his teammates and the club.

"I'm not one for counting games or looking toward milestones but I'm very proud of playing 250 matches because not too many blokes get to do it," he said.

"I was happy the boys put in a really good performance and I could finish with a smile on my face."

His coach Bellamy said that the Queensland Origin boys may have had a point to prove after Wednesday night's disappointment but Smith said he had put the result behind him.

"As soon as that was done ... my focus was for this club and doing what I had to do to get a result."


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