Wingers the stars in Storm win over Dragons
FOR all those thinking wingers are those blokes hanging about football teams, the drummers of the rugby league world, this one was for you.
In a couple stunning swoops, Melbourne's flyers sent the Dragons plummeting back to earth as the Storm soared to a four-point gap at the top of the NRL ladder.
That St. George Illawarra are their nearest rivals, two wins in arrears after just nine weeks of football, simply underlines the dominance made plain in a 34-22 thumping more comprehensive than the final score suggests.
And to think the Red V really weren't all that bad at all, at least in the first 40 minutes when the damage was done.
They completed at 82%, missed an entirely reasonable 11 tackles and competed, for the most part, right across the park.
Except on the flanks, where the Storm reigned supreme despite Jason Nightingale finishing with a hat-trick of his own, and then ran away with it.
Take nothing away from those doing the leg work inside them.
Veteran Billy Slater in particular impressed as he racked up a pair of tries and try-assists on his continued return from injuries feared to have finished his career.
But considering the flack their predecessors copped for the best part of a century, all power to Melbourne's Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr.
After just 25 minutes the pair had two tries apiece. The second-placed Saints were trailing 22-0 and already done.
Even with a 12,377-strong Wollongong crowd witnessing Vunivalu's brace, believing it was something else entirely, such was the skill on show.A one-handed grab of a Slater kick, followed by a touchdown while parallel to the turf and hanging over the sideline, proved equal parts sublime and devastating.
Addo-Carr's double saw his pure pace take centre stage.
But the 142 first half metres and three line-breaks around those shining moments said plenty too.
This is a player going places under Craig Bellamy, as fast as those fleet feet will take him.
As is the Storm way, the pair were still putting in when the match was well and truly run and done.
The effort kept coming when opposite number Nene MacDonald burst into the clear with 15 minutes to go, both Storm wingers mowing him down with less than a metre between the Dragon and the tryline.
For good measure a couple of second half tries to Nightingale, either side of four-pointers from Cam McInnes and Tariq Sims, gave the scoreline respectability and the wingers more cause for cheer.
All the points for those in purple gave Storm skipper Cam Smith his own slice of rugby league history.
When he piloted his fifth conversion of the afternoon through the sticks, it was one more than any other in 109 years, taking him past Jason Taylor's 942 career goals to sit atop the pile on his own.
Smith deserves nothing less, but today he had to settle for a supporting role.
For once, this was a wingers' game.