Conman Cam and the Storm up to their old tricks
It hasn't taken Cameron Smith and the Melbourne Storm long to adapt their go-slow tactics to the new rule interpretations.
Two weeks ago it looked like the Storm would go backwards and Smith, in particular, looked every day of his 36 years.
But as he prepares to celebrate his 37th birthday this week, Smith again showed why he is still the king - and the master manipulator - with a typical masterclass performance in Saturday's win over Newcastle.
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For all the praise Smith has rightly received for his scintillating dummy-half work and game management during the 26-12 victory, Smith and the Storm constantly pushed the boundaries - to the point where the match became frustrating to watch.
It wasn't necessarily dirty, mean stuff. Just tricky, annoying tactics to slow down Knights' play-the-balls.
Such as players lying in the ruck on early tackles to give their team that extra split second to get the defensive line set.
It happened too often to be an accident, particularly with Felise Kaufusi.
There is a growing trend of teams being willing to give up an early set restart, but the Storm seemed to take it to another level.
To their credit, the Storm are tremendous at buying the defensive line more time by getting three players into the tackle and then peeling off one at a time.
However, other things are going on that need to be addressed.
The week earlier against Souths they were getting their marker to stand several metres back from the play-the-ball to limit Damien Cook's ability to scoot out of dummy-half.
This time they were splitting at the ruck.
Then there was the hands on the ball, for which referee Ben Cummins called out Smith several times.
On one occasion, the Knights player dropped the ball after Cummins had called held but there was no penalty, just a scrum.
Then the next set, the Storm scored.
Melbourne also had players on the edges who were constantly jumping the gun to stop the Knights spreading the ball.
All in all, they seemed to get away with more than their share of contentious calls.
Smith was constantly talking to Cummins and midway through the first half was caught dropping the F-bomb when Ryan Papenhuyzen was pinged for stripping Kalyn Ponga.
"You f***ing called it," Smith fumed.
Then there was the incident before halftime when Kaufusi did a blatant strip to slow down the play the ball close to the line.
That was a deadset sin bin every day of the week.
Not this time.
At the end of the game, the Knights copped another tough call when David Klemmer was penalised for taking out Dale Finucane. The decision pretty much put the match to bed.
Perhaps the most comical incident of the night was when Smith called out Andrew McCullough for being offisde.
Newcastle fans had every right to be blowing up.
While Fox Sports commentators rightly applauded Smith's five-star performance, we don't want the issue swept under the carpet.
Knights fans on social media were understandably furious.
We don't want to go back to where we were before the six-again rule was implemented.
The referees have been doing an outstanding job but they need to make sure they don't drop the ball now.
Originally published as Conman Cam and the Storm up to their old tricks