Storm 50
Warriors 6

Melbourne were in the wars. The Warriors were the bombers.

Interim coach Todd Payten had a disastrous start to his poisoned chalice tenure in charge of the beleaguered NRL side, as they crashed to a 50-6 defeat against Melbourne.

The Warriors are in sad, hopeless disastrous disarray.

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Recently retired NRL veteran Robbie Farah warned during the week that the sacking of coach Stephen Kearney last weekend could rip the squad apart. His words are ringing true, with rookie coach Payten facing an extraordinary test.

A defensive nightmare on the left side where Peta Hiku and Ken Maumalo - returning after a three week injury absence - were completely out of sync was at the root of the problems.

But after squandering a host of chances against the Rabbitohs, the Warriors were at it again at Kogarah Oval.

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The Warriors made a promising start. By the end the Storm - who were down to 13 men during the second half - were running riot with veteran hooker Cameron Smith running the show in the halves.

Key playmaker Cameron Muster didn't return for the second half, after limping through most of the first, but it didn't make any difference with Smith in command.

It was all over at halftime, when the Storm led 22-0. But any hope of finding respectability on the scoreboard nosedived in the third quarter, when Patrick Herbert and Gerard Beale muffed try chances in rapid succession from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck passes. The Warriors captain thrust his arms in frustration after the second.

It goes without saying that any hope the Auckland club may have held of making the playoffs is well and truly gone after yet another massive defeat. They are now in a desperate salvage operation, adrift in Australia and continually outclassed with no family nearby or home ground to retreat to.

Warriors players look dejected after another Storm try. Photo / Getty
Warriors players look dejected after another Storm try. Photo / Getty

Payten's assignment as a first grade coach put him up against one of the greats, Craig Bellamy coaching his 456th game.

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And believe it or not, the Warriors dominated the first quarter and went very close to scoring in each corner, through Maumalo and Herbert.

If would have offered Payten a bit of hope, but maybe a flashback or two to the previous game against South Sydney when five tries were bombed.

Melbourne weren't doing much more than clinging on at this point but a lame Tuivasa-Sheck grubber kick opened the door. It was grabbed by Josh Addo-Carr, who is facing constant suggestions that he's not the fastest man in the NRL anymore.

He flew upfield where Hiku jolted him to the ground, but Melbourne kept the ball moving and Paul Momirovski - who joined the Storm this year in a player swap with the Tigers - finished it off.

Was this the turning point, when the Storm would start their motor? Yes, it was.

Bang, bang, bang.

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Right wing Suliasi Vunivalu cruised around Maumalo and then coasted over the line when Tuivasa-Sheck inexplicably hit the pause button.

Suliasi Vunivalu of the Storm scores one of his three tries against the Warriors. Photo / Getty
Suliasi Vunivalu of the Storm scores one of his three tries against the Warriors. Photo / Getty

Storm legend Smith was clicking through the gears and when little fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen drove between the much larger Hiku and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, it was 16-0 and probably game over.

Momirovski added another when Maumalo, having floated high above the chasers, let the ball float to the ground.

Warriors hooker Karl Lawton and Storm forward Christian Welch were forced out of the game during the first half via head assessments.

The Warriors had gone into the game without Lachlan Burr and David Fusitu'a for the same reason.

Storm 50 (S. Vunivalu 3, P. Momirovski 2, R. Papenhuyzen 2, B. Smith, J. Addo-Carr tries; C. Smith 7 goals)
Warriors 6 (P. Herbert try, C. Harris-Tavita goal)
Halftime: 22-0.

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