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Victoria: we want this title - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sat, 25 Aug 2007 01:09:00 GMT
Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith wasn't under any illusions as to which title matters the most after his side ripped the Bulldogs apart 38-6 at Telstra Stadium on Friday.

Touching upon the fact that the J J Giltinan Shield is returning to Victoria for a second straight season, the Test international didn't allow the glory of the moment to detract from the awful truth of 2006.

"The big lesson that we learn't last year is that it doesn't really matter if you get the minor premiership," Smith said.

"As soon as next week's over, it's a whole new season.

"It doesn't matter whether you come first or eighth, you're a chance of winning the big one I think."

One interested spectator in the crowd was Eels CEO Denis Fitzgerald who after watching the Storm's brutal disposal of the Bulldogs, may have been grateful his side played the Storm a week earlier when they were still to hit the form that has made them the envy of the league.

Victory over the Bulldogs marked a triumphant return to the venue that hosted Brisbane's 14-8 win over the Storm in last year's Grand Final.

Melbourne's 2nd straight minor premiership is the first time an NRL club has won the title back-to-back since the Brisbane Broncos last claimed that record in 1998.

In the end the difference between winning and losing came down to fullback Billy Slater, hooker Cameron Smith and try-scoring superstar Israel Folau.

Folau put the Bulldogs to sleep once and for good with a hat-trick of tries inside a 9 minute period late in the second-half. His tally now sits at 20 tries for the season, 1 better then Slater's 19 on debut in 2004.

Leading 8-6 at half-time off the back of a Billy Slater try and Cameron Smith penalty goal, a tired looking Storm were left hanging by their thumbs right up until winger Matt Geyer scored the first of four touchdowns inside an 11 minute period.

Smith - who kicked 5 of his side's 6 goals - had a hand in one try while narrowly being denied one by the video referee right on half-time.

The Bulldogs solo-effort came from Jarred Hickey who charged over from close range to give his side their only try in an error ridden first-half.

"We probably played them back into form," defeated Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes conceded after the game.

Folkes - having watched his side possibly give up a top-four spot pending other results - was in no mood for dealing with foolish questions.

Asked if this was the loss his side had to have before the finals, the Bulldogs mentor refused to dignify the query.

"Oh, that's a stupid question......no!"

The 2004 Premiership winning coach was not however on the verge of panicing given the size of the loss this close to finals football.

"I'm not feeling all warm and fuzzy...no. But I'm not about to cut my throat either.

"The first sixty minutes showed we can go with them."

Should the Melbourne Storm withhold being presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield until the Grand Final to avoid the minor premiership curse?
MELBOURNE 38 (I Folau 3, B Slater, M Geyer, J Lima tries; C Smith 6, I Folau 1 goals) d CANTERBURY 6 (J Hickey try; El Masri goal) at Telstra Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins. Crowd: 21,756 - Read More, Here