The Melbourne Storm showed once again they are still a force to be reckoned with when they defeated the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland in round 19 of the NRL on Sunday. In what proved to be a dour affair, the match really was a battle of defence, Storm reigning supreme 12-6.

The win marked their seventh consecutive victory and their 13th overall for the season. Storm now sit equal first on points (28) with St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs, but are in first place thanks to a slightly superior for-and-against percentage.

In a post-match interview, Storm captain Cameron Smith said, “Over the last eight weeks we’ve won a lot of close games, a lot of matches where we haven’t necessarily been at our best, but effort and the willingness to stay in the fight has got us home.”

What makes Storm’s efforts so spectacular are the obstacles they have had to overcome in the past two months. At the beginning of June, they were fifth on the ladder and were certain to lose 5-6 players due to Origin duties, not to mention injury concerns.

However, piggy-backing off the experienced Smith and relying on younger talent to deliver proved to be a winning formula – even over top-eight sides like the Warriors, Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos.

Smith said the reigning premiers “haven’t really fired a shot yet”. “I think this year we’ve won three games by one point, so we haven’t really blown any teams off the park consistently,” he said. “We’ve certainly put ourselves in a very good position at this stage of the season and really just off the back of playing some tough football.”

With Origin now over and a full complement of players, Storm are looking to further cement their top-spot on the ladder in the final six rounds of the regular season. The rest of the league must be sitting back thinking what they need to do to weather this storm and knock this winning machine off its rails.

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