Storm crush Leeds to take World Club title

Brodie Croft has shown there's life at Melbourne after Cooper Cronk with a stellar performance in the NRL champions' emphatic World Club Challenge win over Leeds.

Croft was given first crack at the No.7 jumper made vacant by veteran Cronk's shift to the Sydney Roosters and made the most of the opportunity in Friday night's 38-4 victory at AAMI Park.

The win is Melbourne's third WCC title, also taking the crown in 2000 and 2013. They draw level with Leeds and sit one behind Wigan.

The only dampener on the night for Melbourne was the loss of Test fullback Billy Slater, who didn't return after halftime due to a jarred shoulder, although Storm coach Craig Bellamy said post-match there were "no alarm bells" and his departure was a precautionary measure.

Croft, 20, handled the pressure with aplomb, scoring a try and setting up five others as the Storm looked sharp in their first run of the year with a full-strength side.

Bellamy was impressed by his team's showing and said it was a promising start for Croft.

"I thought he was really good and we expected that of him to be honest," Bellamy said.

"We don't expect him to be a Cooper Cronk - we just expect him to do real good job Brodie Croft-style."

The Super League title-holders scored first when they took advantage of successive penalties.

Lock Stevie Ward caught the Storm out on the short side with big winger Ryan Hall diving across in the corner in the ninth minute.

Croft managed to get in on the act soon after when he laid on a perfectly timed pass for prop Jesse Bromwich to charge through the middle to touch down.

The young Queenslander then took on the defence himself with the video referee ruling momentum had carried him over the line to break a 4-4 deadlock.

The home side started to take control of the match and dealt the Rhinos a massive blow right on halftime when Croft found Suliasi Vunivalu. The winger showed his athleticism as he stepped in and around five Leeds players for their third try and an 18-4 lead.

Leeds' cause wasn't helped with the loss of key men Ward (calf) and fullback Jack Walker (knee), while they arrived in Melbourne down on size after injuries to four props.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott felt errors killed his side as they tried to play an expansive game to get past Melbourne's defence.

"I thought their defence was outstanding," he said.

"If you asked why we really struggled it was Melbourne's defence - it was suffocating and the more the game went on the better they got."

Croft continued to shine in the second half, putting Felise Kaufusi through a hole and putting up the kick that led to a Will Chambers' try to underline the Storm's mantle as the world's best club.