The red-hot Cowboys have won six in a row after stunning the Storm 36-6 on home soil in front of a sold-out crowd.
In front of a sold-out crowd at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Tom Gilbert caught a brief lunge from the Storm, beating several players to score in the 10th minute.
The Cowboys backed it up with another try in the 18th minute for their “unsung hero” Reece Robson.
But it wasn’t all joy for the Cowboys with Kyle Fledt and Jason Taumalolo sustaining knee injuries when the Storm finally got on the board via Felise Kaufusi.
However, the Cowboys came together and put in four unanswered attempts in the second half to take a stunning 36-6 win.
Robson shone as hooker, while young gunner Jeremiah Nanai took a double and Murray Taulagi came up with another brilliant move.
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COWBOYS FIT ‘BIG TEST’ WITH FLYING COLORS
The Cowboys have emerged as the real surprise pack of 2022.
Heading into Saturday’s Storm clash, they finished third on the ladder after winning seven of their first ten matches – five of them at a trot.
But many claimed to have had a relatively friendly disposition thus far.
Well, if the Storm was their biggest test yet, it’s safe to say they passed with flying colors.
Fox League analyst Cooper Cronk could tell from their first try that the Cowboys were ready to make a statement.
“Look at the reaction here (after Gilbert’s attempt), this is where the Cowboys were for this game,” he said.
“They beat Parramatta a few weeks ago, but this is the big test. I like what they do, they go down on the left against Harry Grant.”
Corey Parker added, “From the start, I think the Cowboys definitely came out of the blocks.”
The Cowboys really stepped on the accelerator in the second half and scored four times in 12 minutes.
“A stunning score after a series of games where the Cowboys continue to score big,” said Fox League commentator Warren Smith.
COUNT BELLAMY MOMENT AFTER ‘UN-MELBOURNE-LIKE’ PERFORMANCE
After all, the Storm are people.
Many had tipped the premiership heavyweights to come back after last week’s heavy loss to the Panthers, only to be thrashed again instead.
Melbourne has had to deal with injuries before, but the absence of Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen is really palpable.
Arguably the best hooker in the league, Harry Grant had to switch to halfback, while Nick Meaney moved to fullback. Despite their best efforts, the Storm’s attack was a shadow of what it usually is.
A try before half time kept them in the game, but even a pep talk from Craig Bellamy at half time couldn’t lead to a win as the Cowboys had four unanswered attempts.
Fox League cameras showed a dejected Bellamy in the coach’s box. He didn’t yell or pace—instead, he sat still.
“A resigned look,” Greg Alexander said of Bellamy after an attempt by Cowboys.
“Just about Craig Bellamy and something you rarely see,” commented Fox League commentator Warren Smith.
Rarely do you see Melbourne saying ‘you just have to wait until Papenhuyzen and Hughes come back on deck’.
“Melbourne pays for un-Melbourne-esque mistakes.”
While the Cowboys deserve a lot of credit, Alexander believes the score is more reflective of the Storm, as even the Cowboys were among their best in the first half.
“I think you think about the Storm and they’ve been so dominant for so long that it doesn’t matter who’s missing, players come in and they still get the job done,” he said.
“You talk about the Cowboys’ mistakes that were made in the first half, they haven’t made those mistakes all season. That was in terms of their game-control.
“I think it says more about the Storm than the Cowboys.”
As the Cowboys put the icing on the cake for one of their biggest wins of the season, Bellamy was spotted again.
“You can understand the resignation on Craig Bellamy’s face now, I think he could have seen this coming,” Alexander said.
“(They are) absolutely blown off the park.”
COWBOYS’ ‘UNSUNG HERO’ PARTY
The Cowboys’ “unsung hero” Reece Robson was instrumental in his side’s anger at the Storm.
With so much talk about the shape of halves Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden, fullback Scott Drinkwater and young gun Heilum Luki, Robson has crawled under the radar.
But the 23-year-old was totally classy, scored a try and set up another on Saturday.
Coach Todd Payten was full of praise for Robson two weeks ago, and Fox League commentator Warren Smith echoed Payten’s thoughts after Robson’s attempt.
Leading up to this game, Todd Payten said that while Damien Cook is the NSW Origin owner and will be the hooker for Game 1, he said Reece Robson is playing such good football right now that if Cook would have a problem , he’s more than ready to play against Queensland in Origin this year,” said Smith.
Former Cowboy Brent Tate and NSW adviser Greg Alexander were also impressed with Robson.
“He is a real unsung hero on this Cowboys team. He’s a great defender and he’s very solid on offense,” Tate said.
“A great start,” Alexander added.
“He’s been busy defending, dangerous out of the dummy half and he’s been throwing a lot of questions at that Melbourne Storm defense around the ruck.”
In addition to his try-and-try assist, Robson finished the game with 59 yards, one tackle bust, one linebreak and one linebreak assist, while also making 30 tackles with just one miss.
cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 16. Coen Hess 11. Tom Gilbert 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13 Jason Taumalolo 10. Ruben Cotter 14. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 15. Heilum Luki 17. Griffin Neame. Substitute player: 20. Connelly Lemuelu
Storm: 2. Nick Meaney 15. Dean Ieremia 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 9. Harry Grant 8. Jesse Bromwich 10. Brandon Smith 17. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13 Josh King 1. Tyran Wishart 14. Alec MacDonald 16. Trent Loiero 18. Chris Lewis. Substitute player: 21. Jordan Grant
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