The forecast was for a Storm warning and the Purple Pride delivered a don't-argue result at what could be their New Zealand home ground in Napier tonight.

Little separated the Melbourne Storm from the St George Illawarra Dragons in the first 15 minutes at McLean Park but the betting agencies' tag of favouritism for the "hosts" began to live up to the billing before claiming a 22-4 victory in their NRL match.

A beaming Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Melbourne had "taken the result out of it".

Considering the Storm were in Auckland a fortnight ago, Bellamy said it wasn't easy to return here but the players were keen "on a positive experience" to honour teammate Tohu Harris at his hometown.


"We've enjoyed our two or three days here and to top it off with a performance like tonight is always good."

The dew tonight would have made ball handling tricky but Bellamy said both sides did remarkably well.

"I thought the ground was pretty good."

The sides completed five tackles with religious fervour as the refs pulled up anything injudicious although both parties were guilty of committing a few unforced errors.

In the 21st minute, the crowd shared the pain as Storm captain Cameron Smith took a hit but the aggressors kicked too deep after scrum half Cooper Cronk broke the line.

Two minutes later, Storm winger Marika Koroibete was denied a try as he came agonisingly close to the try line.

In the 25th minute, scrum half Benji Marshall found winger Jason Nightingale out wide
with a miss pass for a try but cheers turned to jeers for St George fans after the ref ruled it a forward pass.

When asked at the media scrum how he saw the disallowed try, Dragons coach Paul McGregor replied: "Did it look all right to you? It looked all right to me."


The rookie NRL coach questioned a Melbourne play that led to a try, adding there wasn't much doubt the pass had floated forward.

"We seem to be on the wrong end of it [refs' calls] at the moment," he lamented.

Three minutes later a TMO replay saw Storm interchange player Nelson Asofa-Solomona muscled over for a converted try to put the Storm ahead 6-0.

With less than three minutes to go to halftime Storm centre Harris intercepted a speculator from Marshall and fed Koroibete backing up for a 40m dash for a try which Smith again converted for a 12-0 lead.

Within three minutes of resuming in the second half, the Dragons found themselves kicking back from their goal line.

A few minutes later a good portion of the 14,432 spectators at McLean Park joined in on a rash of Mexican waves that lasted about five minutes.

Dragons desperately needed anything to ignite the game but despite an isolated cheer or two from a paltry of fans it was second rower Kevin Proctor who extended the Storm's lead to 18-0 from a converted try in the 56th minute.

It was interchange player Mahe Fonua's turn to dart down near the corner flag in the 62nd minute for a try but Smith failed to convert, 22-0.

With a shade over five to go, sections of the crowd started deserting their seats.

The Dragons scored a consolation try through centre Peter Mata'utia with three minutes to go to bridge the gap to 22-4 following a failed conversion.

The final hooter couldn't come soon enough for the "visitors" who couldn't change their fortunes at a neutral venue.

Bellamy saluted Asofa-Solomona for scoring a try in a just a few games in first-grade footy but can be pretty hard to stop at times. "He's a big kid -- also he's doing a very good job."

Cronk came off with a corked thigh but they also took him to manage his knee as best as they could.

"It's another short turnaround so it was just a sensible thing to do with the way the score was," Bellamy said.

Smith said Melbourne would always be home but they enjoyed the cultural experience today.

"The marae - the boys enjoyed that. The coach even spoke some Maori which was good because he did a pretty good job," he said, delighted with the way Napier and Hawke's Bay had embraced the Storm.

If it fit in with Melbourne's schedule next season, Smith couldn't see why they wouldn't return here.

The Dragons, he felt, dominated the first 15 minutes but the Storm got field position and ball to slowly take the upper hand in the arm wrestle.

"To me it felt like they were playing for the season tonight, the Dragons," he said, mindful theye were riding a rough patch on seven consecutive losses now.

St George's energy and defence suggested they wanted the two points.

"To our boys' credit we took a lot of punishment early and not to concede on our try line so we held them out for 75 minutes of the game."

McGregor was satisfied with his defence but bemoaned a lack of urgency on attack.
He felt his troops weren't under any pressure with the ball and he lauded his side's intent in putting up the shutters.

"I think our defence is going very well. Whether it's taken too much out of us ...

"It's got to be better purpose behind every play instead of just running the ball when you need to," he said, adding while there was pressure with every game it was imperative the Dragons were back on fire before Newcastle Knights in the next round at home.

The Rabbitohs thumped the Knights tonight in Australia.

"When you lose you're closer to not making the semifinals so for us it's about working hard through the week on what we didn't do well and what we did do we'll tonight," McGregor said.