<big>Melbourne Storm smash Harlequins 34-10</big>
By Valkerie Baynes, AAP February 22, 2010, 2:00 pm
Avoiding heavy legs will be the priority for Melbourne’s rugby league stars after they warmed up for the World Club Challenge with an easy victory on a sodden Harlequins field.
Craig Bellamy used 19 of his 23-man squad on the way to a 34-10 win on Monday (AEDT) in front of 3612 people at The Stoop, which had been hit by rain and chopped up by a rugby union match the previous day.
“The ground was very heavy,” Bellamy told reporters.
“We got here on Tuesday and then playing again next week I was a little bit concerned about how heavy-legged we’re going to be but we were pretty strict on the different times for the players so hopefully that will work out ok.”
Greg Inglis returned from the hip injury that kept him out of the recent All Stars game and made it through his 40-minute spell unscathed to secure a WCC berth against Leeds on February 28.
But it was fellow centre Dane Nielsen with two tries who led the charge alongside youngsters Kevin Proctor and Gareth Widdop.
Bellamy will also have the benefit of calling upon the fresh legs of All Stars Cameron Smith, Adam Blair and Billy Slater, who is recovering well from an ankle injury that kept him out of the NRL-Indigenous representative match.
Bellamy also hopes to regain the services of prop Jeff Lima, who recovered from a hamstring strain in time to face Harlequins but had to sit out after suffering a badly bruised foot when he was trodden on during training the day before the match.
Anthony Quinn, Hep Cahill and Rory Kostjasyn joined Nielsen and Proctor as try scorers, while Widdop had a near-flawless game with the boot, kicking 10 points.
Playing in place of Australian fullback Slater, the English-born Widdop, who moved to Australia as a teenager, missed just one of six conversion attempts.
The 20-year-old showed his versatility by switching to five-eighth after halftime to press his claims for a place on the bench against the Rhinos.
“A bit of our concern when you compare us to Leeds is the lack of matches we’ve had compared to them, so it would have been ideal to play a really strong side today but we can’t wave a magic wand over injured players and make them play,” Bellamy said.
“Harlequins put out the best team they had, or the team they wanted to play, and we can only go from that. I’m only concerned on what we did today and I thought we did it pretty well.”
All Star Brett Finch was highly effective in the 20 minutes he played, setting up the first two tries.
“With the heavy conditions it certainly slows the game down, brings it back to old-bloke speed like myself, which is good,” Finch joked.
“With a seven-day turn around the boys might pull up a bit heavy, a bit tired, a bit fatigued, but it should be fine by next week.”
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