Man mountain David Klemmer fired a warning shot across Queensland’s bow while ensuring Canterbury enjoyed a happy homecoming to Belmore Oval with a 20-4 win over Melbourne.
The Bulldogs blew the Storm off the park from the opening whistle and it was one-way traffic from there with the Dogs front rower leading the onslaught on Monday night.
Klemmer looks primed for a big performance in next week’s State of Origin decider for NSW after a mammoth night against the Storm.
The sell-out 16,764-strong crowd rose to their feet every time Klemmer carried the ball as he ran for 206 metres from 18 runs, made four tackle busts and 21 tackles.
Des Hasler’s team jumped back into the top eight in fitting circumstances in the side’s first premiership match at their spiritual home since 1998.
The crowd went into raptures in the third minute when the competition’s top try-scorer Curtis Rona turned provider, putting in a deft kick for Brett Morris.
The Bulldogs then zeroed in on the Storm’s vulnerable left edge and piled on two rapid-fire tries.
Trent Hodkinson took on the line and sent Shaun Lane sailing over, six minutes later they combined for an almost identical four-pointer only this time the rookie second-rower shovelled it onto Sam Perrett.
Hodkinson was at his brilliant best while the Bulldogs look to have found a talent in man-of-the-match Lane, playing just his third NRL game and first in the starting side.
Hodkinson had his best game of the season but was still substituted at the 66-minute mark for Josh Reynolds, who received a standing ovation from the Belmore faithful.
The Dogs took a 16-0 lead into halftime and Josh Morris extended the advantage six minutes after the break when Sam Kasiano delivered a lobbed pass over several defenders.
The Storm badly missed Cooper Cronk (knee) and Billy Slater (shoulder) however were hardly given a chance by the Bulldogs who had a mountain of possession in the first half.
After the Bulldogs’ defence was resolute for most of the match, the Storm crossed for a late consolation through Marika Koroibete.