Smith says Cronk is back to his best
BRISBANE, Aug 18 AAP – Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith sent a warning to rival NRL clubs declaring classy halfback Cooper Cronk’s kicking game back on target after he booted Melbourne to a 19-18 win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Cronk’s right boot delivered a 40-20, a rebound off the goal post for his own try, winger Sisa Waqa’s second four-pointer and also included the match-winning field goal.
Smith revealed after Brisbane forward Ben Te’o locked the game up 18-all with a 73rd minute try that Cronk had spoken to him behind the goal posts as Broncos half Peter Wallace converted.
“He said, ‘If you get a chance, mate, get me to halfway and I’m going to have a shot’,” said Smith after the narrow win.
Cronk’s effort brought back memories of his spectacular field goal to win last month’s State of Origin series decider against NSW from over 40 metres out.
“He can kick a field goal here, that’s for sure, the little fella,” Smith said.
“It was almost like a training shot for him, only 20 out.
“He’s getting back to the accuracy he’s had for a long time.
“He’s obviously come off a gruelling Origin period where physically he was probably down a little and you could tell by his kicking.
“But the last few weeks he’s been back to his best where he is putting them on a 10 cent piece out there and the boys just need to run onto them.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy heaped praise on Waqa who scored two tries, the first a controversial benefit-of-the-doubt effort, and forward Jessie Bromwich who made more metres (122m) than any forward despite starting off the bench.
“I’m not quite sure why teams keep targeting him (Waqa) because he’s good under the high ball,” said Bellamy.
Bellamy opted to start Bryan Norrie ahead of Bromwich to utilise his footwork late in the game.
“He was magnificent for us in early in the second half,” he said.
“He just kept finding gaps for us, I don’t know how many runs he had in that first 10 or 15 minutes but he certainly got us on the front foot and did a great job for us.
“I brought him off the bench because I knew it was going to be very solid early in the game and we thought his footwork and his skill might come to the fore a bit later in the half.”
20 Aug 8:42 AM