Sydney Roosters halves James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce made another statement about their State of Origin omission with leading roles in a 32-12 win over a depleted Melbourne Storm.
Dumped from the NSW line-up for the opening Origin clash, the pair orchestrated the six-try to two NRL romp at AAMI Park on Sunday.
The Storm went into the match without injured superstars Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater and with skipper Cameron Smith at five-eighth partnering Ben Hampton.
Hampton struggled with his kicking game that left the home side short of options and they were unable to get across the tryline in the first half, going to the break down 16-0.
Melbourne moved Ben Roberts to five-eighth in the second half to try to spark their attack and it reaped almost instant rewards as he found winger Mahe Fonua on the charge to open their account in the 48th minute.
Just when it appeared a Storm comeback was on the cards, Maloney sent the ball wide to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who showed some dazzling footwork to push the lead out to 14 points.
Sonny Bill Williams then ran on to a short ball from Maloney to plant the ball down and assure the defending champions of the win.
Diminutive fullback Kurt Mann, who made his NRL debut in round nine, was rewarded as one of the Storm’s best with a late try after Roberts popped him a clever ball.
The visitors started with intent and were first across the tryline in the seventh minute on the back of two Storm penalties with skipper Anthony Minichiello diving across in the corner.
Minichiello added his second try in the final minute that capped the victory.
Pearce and Frenchman Remi Casty also touched down in the first half as the burly Roosters forwards made plenty of ground up the middle.
There was plenty of feeling in the match and midway through the first half both sides were involved in a melee that resulted in Roosters backrower Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Storm prop Bryan Norrie being sent to the sin-bin.
Compounding the Storm’s misery, reserve forward Mitch Garbutt was assisted from the field with a possible serious knee injury.