Melbourne’s NRL premiership campaign is back on track with a 48-6 thrashing of the Sharks at AAMI Park.
The Storm’s title aspirations stalled last round with a shock last-ditch loss to Newcastle but, on Saturday evening, six tries in the opening half for a 30-0 lead reaffirmed their status as one of the competition’s danger sides.
Melbourne let the Knights escape a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes last round but, after making 322 tackles, under-strength Cronulla were unable to mount a similar challenge.
To their credit, the Sharks kept toiling away and stopped the Storm onslaught in the second half before promising young winger Valentine Holmes was rewarded with his first NRL try.
While key trio skipper Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk gave their opponents headaches all match, the Storm had plenty of other stars.
Prop Jesse Bromwich was almost unstoppable through the middle.
He collected a first-half try and then offloaded a silky pass for reserve forward Tim Glasby to open the scoring in the second half.
Centre Mahe Fonua and wingers Sisa Waqa and Marika Koroibete showed they had strength to match their speed, all touching down in the first half.
Said to be able to squat 250kg, 21-year-old Fonua gave a demonstration when he carried four Sharks defenders across the line in the first of his two tries.
Glasby, signed with North Queensland in 2015, also bagged two when he ran on to a Slater ball before prop Jordan McLean crossed for the team’s ninth try in the 78th minute.
The win meant Melbourne moved up to fifth on the ladder with Penrith expected to present a far greater challenge in their next match on Monday week.
The Sharks host Canberra in a tussle that could help decide which team wins the wooden spoon.