Cameron Smith now sits two points behind Hasem El Masri’s record. Picture: Getty
Cameron Smith now sits two points behind Hasem El Masri’s record. Picture: Getty

Smith denied record as Storm end Dogs dominance

CLOSE but no cigar for Cameron Smith.

The Storm captain needed nine points to surpass NRL record holder Hasem El Masri but had to make do with just the six in the hard-fought 18-16 win over Canterbury Bulldogs at AAMI Park.

With NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and El Masri (death-riding the Storm skipper) in the house, Smith came close converting three tries from close range to give the record a shake but ultimately the pleasantries, for arguably the NRL's greatest, must wait at least a week.

The Bulldogs had a chance to take the game into extras but Rhyse Martin shanked the conversion with under a minute on the clock.


Jahrome Hughes has stones. Big ones. Twice on Sunday night the Storm fullback brought down rampaging Bulldogs winger Jayden Okunbor in open territory to save certain tries.

Giving up 24kg in weight and 22cm in height, the Storm No.1 didn't look like shirking the contest, going low and hard to take out Okunbor at speed, with a full head of steam.

Jahrome Hughes is a tough bugger. Picture: Getty
Jahrome Hughes is a tough bugger. Picture: Getty

The Storm was unable to score off the first try-saver, despite a mountain of possession inside the Bulldogs 30m, following an error and separate penalty, but the Purple team cashed in midway through the second half, when Tui Kamikamica crashed over to give Smith the chance level the scores with 27 minutes to play.

In a close game, the little things, coaches often talk about, mean the most and Hughes did them to perfection.

The vision, of both efforts, will be shown on loop in the review, make no mistake about that.


Felise Kaufusi set the tone early in the piece with a bone-jarring hit on Dylan Napa, which ultimately ended the Bulldogs enforcer's night after only a handful of minutes.

Napa would play on to complete the next set before he was led into the bowels of AAMI Park and not seen again in regulation.

In worrying signs for the Bulldogs, Napa was seen in a moonboot after the match. Melbourne knew what Canterbury would bring, a hard defensive slog, which the Dogs, to their credit, duly delivered on, but the Storm would not be denied.

Suliasi Vunivalu and Cameron Munster chased kicks like greyhounds hunt the lure at Sandown Park, while Jesse Bromwich's pack mauled the Bulldogs through the middle.

Cameron Munster showed his Dally M credentials once again. Picture: AAP
Cameron Munster showed his Dally M credentials once again. Picture: AAP


Who else but Cameron Munster? As the Bulldogs threatened to run up the scoreboard in the first half the Dally M Player of the Year contender, who feasts on eyes-up instinctive play, went into PlayStation mode to help the Storm open its account with a sweetly-timed kick into space, allowing Will Chambers to run onto the ball, soccer it forward, and then draw a penalty try after being taken out illegally over stripe.

With the game on the line, scores locked and only 10 minutes to play, it was Munster again who provided the spark, slicing through a weary Bulldogs line to give the hosts an 18-12 lead after Vunivalu, earlier in the set, disrupted Okunbor's bid to defuse a highball, forcing an error which the Storm capitalised on.

Munster finished with 101m, three tackle busts, two offloads, a try assist and the match-winner. If the season ended today, Munster is the best in the competition bar none.