Chambers hat-trick leads Storm to NRL win
Melbourne centre Will Chambers grabbed a hat-trick as the Storm stretched their unbeaten start to the season to a club record eight NRL matches with a 32-14 win over the Warriors on Wednesday.
Chambers broke a 14-14 deadlock with 10 minutes remaining in the Anzac Day match at AAMI Park and then capped the win with his third try, which like the others came off a Billy Slater pass.
Fellow centre Dane Nielsen also finished the match with a second try as the scoreline blew out as the clock wound down.
The Warriors have won three of their past four clashes, including last year's preliminary final, and it looked early on like they would ruin another Storm party.
But the competition front-runners dug deep to hold their bogey side at bay.
The Warriors showed no fear of taking on the Storm and used their big forwards to pile on the pressure early, forcing the home side into some uncharacteristic errors, and they took a 6-0 lead through athletic winger Bill Tupou.
The visitors suffered an early blow when they lost dangerous fullback Kevin Locke to injury just six minutes into the match, forcing Krisnan Inu to the back.
Their Test halfback Shaun Johnson didn't start after failing to overcome a shoulder injury suffered in last week's international.
Two ball-carrying errors by Inu proved crucial and led to two Storm tries.
The last was a school-boy error as he carried the ball from the restart in one hand and dropped it without a Storm player in sight with Justin O'Neill scoring in the ensuing play to give his side a 14-10 lead.
The Storm were forced to recover from a 6-0 deficit after a sloppy start.
The Warriors sent the ball wide with hard-working centre Ben Henry finding his winger Tupou, who dived across the line to open the scoring.
Tupou kept his side in the match with another sensational four-pointer in the 64th minute.
He ran on to a kick by Pita Godinet, who replaced Johnson in the starting line-up, into the in-goal and managed to somehow ground it before he dived over the dead ball line.
That tied the match up 14-14 and it looked like it would be a thriller before the benchmark side of the competition showed their class to pull away for a deserved victory.
Warriors coach Brian McClennan was disappointed with how his side finished after keeping pace with the Storm for the majority of the game.
"The game was a lot closer than that," McClennan said.
"I'm really proud of the effort of the team. For 65 minutes we were pretty well in the contest so I was very proud of the team's effort in that regard."
He said the loss of Locke (sternum) and Johnson (shoulder) disrupted the team and hoped to have both back for their next game against Brisbane.
"You get injuries and you deal with it but we didn't deal with it well enough," he said.
"With Kevin coming off and Krisnan moving back, that didn't prove too good for us."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said for his club to become the first since 1996 to open the season with eight straight wins was a "proud moment".
"I think it is a bit special. To win eight games in a row in this competition is pretty tough to do," Bellamy said.
"It's not as if all the games have gone the same way.
"There's been times when we've really had to defend well and times when the game really has been opened up ... whatever the game has been it seems we've been able to handle it reasonably well, so that's very pleasing."
Bellamy believed Melbourne's improved attack was a key to the success and said it was something they focused on in the pre-season.
The only concern of the night was a leg injury to prop Jesse Bromwich, although it's hoped he will be available to take on Penrith in their next game.
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