Sudden injuries before their Anzac test forced Warriors coach Nathan Brown to move skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the wing [replacing David Fusitu'a] and put young debutant Reece Walsh at fullback.
Despite the change to keep a strong side, it wasn't enough to keep their opponents at bay as the Storm struck, 42-20.
Challenging night in Melbourne. Powered by G-Shock NZ 📸 photosport.nzPosted by Vodafone Warriors on Sunday, April 25, 2021
Walsh wasn't the only debutant thrust into the starting side, as forward Rocco Berry joined the field too for an injured Tohu Harris [failed concussion test].
Walsh did enough to have Nathan pay tribute to him.
"We could see Reece's talent there today and he is a very talented kid," Brown said.
"He has got a lot of work to do on his game but any player to have two try assists on debut in a good effort, especially against Melbourne and when you are 18."
Those two try assists gave experienced winger Ken Maumalo's first career hat trick, with Ben Murdoch-Masila scoring the other four-pointer for the Warriors.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘦. Welcome #259 Reece Walsh 📸- @timmycossens @ AAMI ParkPosted by Vodafone Warriors on Sunday, April 25, 2021
Even without their star Ryan Papenhuyzen, also due to injury, the Storm showed they didn't need him as George Jennings, Felise Kaufusi, Nicho Hynes [2 tries], Reimis Smith, Justin Olam and Josh Addo-Carr [2 tries] scored like crazy, with halfback Cameron Munster converting just five of those eight tries.
Kiwi halfback Jahrome Hughes was awarded man of the match, having run 115 metres, making three line breaks and had four try assists in just the first 40 minutes of the game. Coach Craig Bellamy sang his praises post-match.
"I thought he was our best player quite easily actually," he said.
"His kicking game was good, his defence was really good and he has been a real key for us this year.
"When he first started in that position (halfback) he was probably pushed a little by us and probably lacked a bit of confidence," Bellamy noted.
"His big improvement has come from getting more and more confident and confident in himself in what he can do.
"He is a lot braver to test his skills right now and, when he does that, he can go to another level."
An incredible night at AAMI Park - a big thank you to the 20,000+ that attended. Big congrats to Hughsey too for winning the ANZAC Day medal.Posted by Melbourne Storm on Sunday, April 25, 2021
Putting the loss to the side, the Warriors will need to be ready for a rejuvenated North Queensland Cowboys team that is hot off three straight wins on Sunday, May 2.