Great mates Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith could be facing off for the last time in Melbourne. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Great mates Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith could be facing off for the last time in Melbourne. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Storm bracing for Cowboys’ aerial assault

MELBOURNE Storm expects an aerial assault from North Queensland after the minor premiers were found to be vulnerable under the high ball last week.

The West Tigers set up a two-point boilover last Saturday night at AAMI Park by shelling the back field with bombs, the catalyst for a swag of clumsy Storm errors.

Coach Craig Bellamy said he expects the Cowboys to deploy similar tactics to unsettle the likes of Suliasi Vunivalu, Josh Addo-Carr and Billy Slater.

"I imagine they will," Bellamy said.

"There was a little bit of confusion with the back three at times on Saturday night, so hopefully we've sorted that out and those guys will be able to communicate a bit more clearly this week, so we know who's catching and who ain't."

Cowboys ace Johnathan Thurston is the game's best exponent of the floating bomb, while playmaker Michael Morgan, set to return from an abdominal injury, boasts an elite kicking game as well.

The Tigers exposed Melbourne at times last week with an aerial assault
The Tigers exposed Melbourne at times last week with an aerial assault

A loss in the Round 3 blockbuster, which doubles as Thurston's last stand in Melbourne and Vunivalu's 50th game, would relegate Storm to their worst start to a season since 2008.

"They are all big games, it doesn't matter what round it is," Bellamy said.

"You don't get more points in round two than you do in round 17.

"It's not really about the two points or about the win, it's obviously what we're all out there to do, but it's about improving on what we've done."

Due to the five-day turnaround Storm has been unable to attack training with gusto this week, but Bellamy hopes the disappointment of the latest loss will spur a the required response.

Melbourne’s back three can expect plenty of bombs against the Cowboys
Melbourne’s back three can expect plenty of bombs against the Cowboys

Storm paid dearly for "basic" handling errors, gifting the resurgent Tigers valuable territory.

"It is a bit hard to get a gauge (on improvement) with the lack of training this week, so I suppose we'll see tomorrow night," Bellamy said.

"Without a doubt (it is about reinforcing the basics). That's what we haven't been doing well.

"We haven't been doing them so well at training either.

"It's a bit more consistency, that's what we're looking for, and doing the basics a lot better than we have been doing.

"It was a lazy performance (last week) and not working hard enough with doing the basic things well."


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