Drinkwater puts the heat on Hughes for Slater's spot
STORM young gun Scott Drinkwater held up his end of the bargain at GMHBA Stadium, putting Jahrome Hughes on notice in the race for Billy Slater's vacant No.1 jersey in Melbourne's 12-6 loss to the Warriors in Geelong.
With Hughes rested after last Friday night's NRL All Star Game, budding fullback Drinkwater got the start and delivered in turn with a stylish display.
The 21-year-old, who played 60 minutes, could be heard barking orders from the backfield and directing traffic.
Drinkwater looked comfortable with and without the Steeden, testing the Warriors' line early with a probing burst through the middle.
A costly fumble was the only blemish on the Terrigal junior's copybook.
Drinkwater had a hand in Melbourne's solitary try, linking up nicely with Harry Grant and Billy Walters to create the overlap that Cheyse Blair ultimately converted.
Hughes will get the chance to return the favour next Saturday night in Mackay against North Queensland Cowboys.
GET the feeling the Storm will have a hard time reviewing last night's six-point trial loss to the Warriors given the number of sloppy turnovers.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy's rules of engagement are simple: play your role, stick your tackles, defend well and respect the ball.
The Storm, almost unrecognisable with eight walk-up starters missing, including Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr and Jesse Bromwich, coughed up the ball far too easily, especially in the error-riddled first half.
Halfback Brodie Croft had a hand in four of the eight first-half turnovers, unable to find teammates on three occasions with slick passes and then he left a regulation a kick for touch short of the mark.
Young playmaker Billy Walters is on a hiding to nothing, stuck behind Queensland and Australia superstar Cameron Munster, but the son of a Queensland icon did his darnedest last night to get Bellamy's attention.
Walters sliced and diced with the ball and kept asking questions of the Warriors' line. His ability to link up nicely with Drinkwater, Grant and the outside backs was also noticeable.
If Walters is able to hold form early in the season, a spot in Bellamy's run-on squad could be up for grabs during the Origin block.
Speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen provided a spark, while Tui Kamikamica carried the ball the Steeden with purpose.
The catch cry was born out of Suliasi Vunivalu's innate - and acrobatic - ability to score tries, but last night the Flying Fijian had his hands full diffusing bombs as the Warriors targeted the right side with searching kicks.
But Vunivalu, who was vulnerable under the high ball last year, had the safest of hands last night and provided the forwards a chop out with hard runs out of the backfield.