Wests Tigers have suffered a heavy defeat to the Melbourne Storm at Sunshine Coast Stadium this evening with the red-hot ladder-leaders flying out of the blocks to chalk up a dominant 66-16 win.
Falling behind from the opening set of the game, it was one-way traffic from start to finish as the Storm ran riot with the ball in hand — crossing for seven first half tries to pave the way for a remarkably lopsided victory.
The heavy defeat sees Wests Tigers drop behind the Newcastle Knights on the ladder, sitting in 14th position heading into the standalone representative round.
It was a horrific start for the visitors, who scrambled through the opening stages of the game as the Storm had their way with the ball in hand.
Brandon Smith opened the scoring after just two minutes when he burrowed over from dummy half, before Nicho Hynes and Josh Addo-Carr combined down the short side for the in-form fullback to cross for his side's second try.
Errors from Daine Laurie and Ken Maumalo with Wests Tigers' first two touches of the footy compounded the situation for Michael Maguire's men — soon trailing 18-0 when Cameron Munster forced his way over next to the uprights.
It didn't get any better for the visitors, who had no answers for the attacking prowess of the Melbourne forwards as representative duo Dale Finucane and Nelson Asofa-Solomona both found their way to the try-line in the Storm's next two sets.
Having conceded five tries in the opening 15 minutes, Wests Tigers did their best to battle back into the match and looked to have cracked the hosts when Alex Seyfarth collected a kick, but the try was overruled with a knock-on in the lead-up.
In a half where everything that could have gone wrong did, an error from Tommy Talau in his own end turned directly into points, with his knock-on falling into the hands of Jahrome Hughes who put Reimis Smith over untouched.
Shawn Blore's ankle injury five minutes before the break capped off a disastrous 40 minutes for the visitors, who went to the sheds trailing the Storm 40-0 after Felise Kaufusi crashed over for his side's seventh try right on the half-time siren.
Blore's injury was diagnosed at the ground as a bad ankle sprain as the news went from bad to worse in the second half. Hughes and Reimis Smith both collected their doubles early in the second half — pushing the Storm beyond the half century — before Tom Eisenhuth bagged the hosts tenth try of the evening.
Harry Grant pushed the lead beyond 60 with his as Maumalo was denied a try on his club debut for an obstruction on Luke Garner, somewhat summing up the night.
Eventually the visitors would get on the board through Tommy Talau as he finished off a left edge shift, with Luke Brooks adding the extras from out wide.
Talau gets the first Wests Tigers try
With Asofa-Solomona sin-binned for a high tackle on Joe Ofahengaue, Moses Mbye put Garner through the line for his side's second try, with the Bilambil Jets junior bagging his 16th career try in the back row — taking him past Chris Heighington and Liam Fulton (15 each) for tries scored playing for Wests Tigers in the second row.
Despite the man advantage, Wests Tigers couldn't keep out the Storm as Hughes bagged his second of the night before Laurie put David Nofoaluma for his side's third try in the final moments of the match.
With a game off next weekend due to the representative round, Wests Tigers will next be in action against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Leichhardt Oval.
Melbourne Storm 66 (Hughes 2, R.Smith 2, Hynes, Munster, Finucane, Asofa-Solomona, B.Smith, Kaufusi tries; Hynes 9/12 goals) def. Wests Tigers 16 (Talau, Garner, Nofoaluma tries; Brooks 2/3 goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium
Match: Storm v Wests Tigers
Round 15 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast