North Queensland NRL coach Paul Green has accused his team of believing their own media after their seventh successive loss to defending premiers Melbourne.
In their first clash since last year’s title decider, the Storm were again triumphant, posting a 30-14 victory on Thursday night at AAMI Park.
The win came despite the best efforts of Cowboys second-rower Coen Hess who scored a try in each half.
In a high-energy match, both teams, who were coming off second-round defeats, made plenty of errors in their willingness to chance their arm.
Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu had a first-half shocker when he made a 40m break but left his pass to fellow flyer Josh Addo-Carr too late. The ball was knocked down by the only Cowboys defender in sight, fullback Ben Hampton.
Green was filthy with his team’s showing and said they might be guilty of believing the hype surrounding pre-season title favourites.
“They need to stop reading some headlines for starters,” Green said when asked what his side needed to do to improve.
“It was very disappointing.
“We weren’t anywhere near consistent enough in our effort and, in the last two weeks, that’s where we’re getting beaten – not on skill or talent.
“We’re just hoping for an easy ride at the moment and that disappoints me because I know we are better than that. But until we’re prepared to work hard for it, it’s not going to happen for us.”
Melbourne held a 18-8 half-time lead after a costly mistake by North Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan in his first game of the season.
Morgan kicked the ball out on the full, handing the home side possession and territory and reserve prop Christian Welch, in his first touch of the night, steamed on to a Cameron Smith pass for a 33rd-minute try.
Smith added the conversion and then his third penalty goal of the match for the 10-point lead.
Queensland State of Origin representative Hess clawed his team back into the match when – similar to his 25th-minute try – he caught his opposite Ryan Hoffman out in defence and showed brute strength to carry three Storm players over the line.
Another penalty goal by Smith took Melbourne to 20-14 and the Storm took control when Test centre Will Chambers caught the Cowboys’ defence napping.
Giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona added their fourth try of the night for a convincing scoreline.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy, in contrast to Green, was delighted with his team’s improvement after their shock last-round loss to the Wests Tigers.
“I was really happy with our effort tonight,” Bellamy said.
“We still have to get our completions right but the effort with our defence was a whole heap better than what it’s been.”