Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says the Warriors will be strong opponents at their Anzac Day clash.Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy can’t recall a Warriors side defending as well as the current NRL line-up.
As his team prepares to host the Warriors in their annual Anzac Day clash, Bellamy says his team will have to be at their attacking best to get the win.
The Warriors are joint competition leaders after their bruising defensive display set up a win last round over fellow frontrunners St George Illawarra, who were previously unbeaten.
Despite a strong recent record against their opponents, Bellamy said he’d never seen them defend better and believed the Aucklanders would present a huge challenge.
“Obviously the Warriors have had a great start to the season and are top of the competition,” Bellamy said.
“I don’t watch all their games but I can’t remember the last time a Warriors side defended like that – they were outstanding last week.
“Because of the occasion, it’s always a really tough game and it’s going to be exactly the same tomorrow night.”
After struggling early in the season the Storm appear to have rediscovered their attacking mojo over the past two rounds.
While that has coincided with a change in halfbacks with Ryley Jacks replacing Brodie Croft, Bellamy said it was more to do with their vastly improved completion rate.
“A really good sign for us is before the last two weeks we scored one try in two games but in the last two weeks we’ve scored 40 points and then 34 so there’s a huge improvement there with our attack.
“The simple part of that was that we hung on to the ball a lot better.”
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said his team would need to replicate their defensive display against the Storm if they were to underline their credentials as a title force.
They have only won one of their last five meetings.
“Absolutely – they’ve really turned up the heat in the last couple of weeks in the way they’re attacking.
“The defence, has always been very good so we’ve got a pretty good idea what we’re looking at tomorrow night.”
The Warriors will be without Kiwi Test halfback Shaun Johnson, who is still struggling with a hamstring injury but Kearney had full faith in his replacement Mason Lino, who starred in the Dragons win.
“We just didn’t want to take the risk with Shaun and the young fella (Mason Lino) who’s come in there has done a pretty good job the last two times he’s been required, so he’s looking forward to it,” Kearney said.
Australian Associated Press