NRL 2021: Melbourne Storm overwhelm NZ Warriors despite Ken Maumalo farewell hat-trick

Melbourne Storm have thrashed the NZ Warriors 42-16 despite a Ken Maumalo farewell hat-trick at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford. 

The Warriors announced on Saturday that Maumalo would leave the club for the West Tigers immediately but he was a surprise late inclusion. 

He capped off his time at the club with a hat-trick - his second of the season both against the Storm - and finishes with 44 tries for the club. 

The Warriors welcomed back star forward Addin Fonua-Blake from his knee injury that kept him out for 10-weeks but were missing teen sensation Reece Walsh who was suspended, allowing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - who brought up NRL 100 games as captain for the Warriors after Simon Mannering - to return to his normal fullback role.

The New Zealand side came into the contest in ninth on the table and had the opportunity to jump to seventh as they hunted their sixth victory of the season but they were overwhelmed by a strong Storm side who recorded their 11th victory of the season. 

The Warriors - who were wearing their 2021 Indigenous jersey - made a good start as Kodi Nikorima opened the scoring through a penalty goal after 10-minutes. 

But the lead didn't last long as Nicho Hynes responded with two points of his own after 15-minutes. 

The home side made five simple handling errors over the course of the first-half to invite pressure on themselves and the visitors made them pay. 

16-minutes before the break, the visitors crossed for their first try when Hynes delivered a great short pass to put Reimis Smith into a hole before offloading to put Dean Ieremia over in the corner. 

The Storm extended their lead when Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith burrowed his way over to open up a 14-2 lead. 

Five minutes before the break, Tuivasa-Sheck produced a miracle play on Ieremia to hold the ball up to keep the margin at 12-points but the defending premiers still had time to strike just before the break.

Josh Addo-Carr capped a near perfect half from Melbourne when he finished acrobatically in the corner to open up a 18-2 lead at the break.

After a poor first half, things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita was confirmed to have torn a pectoral muscle to that was caused in a tackle in the first-half. 

The Storm made a bright start to the second spell when Kiwis halfback Jahrome Hughes capitalised on a loose ball to score Melbourne's fourth try after Harry Grant tried to smash his way over. 

The visitors extended their lead after 58-minutes when Justin Olam strolled over after a Hughes 40/20. 

The Warriors looked lost in attack for most of the afternoon and it took the man farewelling the club to spark them into life.

With 22 minutes remaining, Maumalo was given a little bit of space and he pounced to finish acrobatically in the corner to claim the Warriors first try of the afternoon.

The Storm didn't let that try affect them as they crossed for two tries in five minutes through Grant and Tom Eisenhuth. 

Grant capitalised on a tiring Warriors defence as he burst out of dummy half to get outside Lesson Ah Mau to bulldoze his way over before Eisenhuth finished off a counter-attack try that went 100-metres to open up a 42-6 lead. 

Maumalo finished his time with the club with two tries in two minutes to round out the contest that saw him finish both acrobatically in the corner to round out the seven try to three thrashing.

The big wing finished the contest in tears after his hat-trick to show how much the club means to him as he prepares to move himself to the West Tigers.  

Storm 42 (Ieremia, Smith, Addo-Carr, Hughes, Olam, Grant, Eisenhuth tries; Hynes 6 conversions, penalty goal) bt Warriors 16 (3 Maumalo tries; Nikorima conversion, penalty goal)