Melbourne have done enough to defeat a gallant Gold Coast side 24-16 in front of 9,108 fans at AAMI Park.
Gold Coast were stinging after a tough loss against South Sydney, so came into tonight's contest looking to regain their form. They started well with several waves of attack on the Melbourne line.
It took until the 12th minute though for the first points from stand-in fullback David Mead chimes into the backline with a lovely cut-out pass to send Steve Michaels away for the try.
They doubled the dose in the 22nd minute after a nervous start from debutant Mahe Fonua gave them a whole set on the line. Steve Michaels went close but Ben Ridge dived over from close range and it was 10-0 Gold Coast.
Melbourne weren't without their chances though. A swift 40/20 from Cameron Smith gave them an opportunity to strike back but the famed backline movement broke down and Titans survived.
The attack came in waves though, Titans were forced to kick five line dropouts in the first half but none came to fruition as the Titans defense held strong, sending them to halftime with a shock 10-0 lead.
Following a rather large spray from Craig Bellamy, Melbourne came out renewed in their focus and looked to post early points. They duly did so when Billy Slater took it upon himself to get the points for the home side.
This surge continued when Cooper Cronk made a break and had the legs to get to the tryline, wiping out the Titans lead within seven minutes of the resumption. Showing how dangerous they can be when they are on note.
Ryan Hoffman added his name to the scorers sheet with a 62nd minute try, running a nice angle to do a slide reminiscent of a slip 'n' slide to extend the lead to eight at 18-10.
There was one more salvo to be fired from the Titans as rookie five-eighth Aidan Sezer put up a pinpoint kick for David Mead to swoop on and touchdown before he could be rounded up by Cooper Cronk.
The storm's lead was two and the game was still in balance.
Gold Coast on the other hand will sweat upon results from their fellow top eight aspirants to keep in the hunt for the spot. They host Parramatta next week back on the Gold Coast.
Melbourne Storm 24 defeated Gold Coast Titans 16
National Rugby League - Round 23 - Friday August 10, 2012 7:45pm
Venue: AAMI Park
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Alan Shortall
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Luke Potter and Henry Perenara
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 0 Gold Coast Titans 10
Melbourne Storm (24)
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Billy Slater, Gareth Widdop
Conversions: Cameron Smith (4/4)
Gold Coast Titans (16)
Tries: Steve Michaels, David Mead, Ben Ridge
Conversions: Scott Prince (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to AAMI Park. We're underway here. 10 gone but there is no score.
MEL - Mahe Fonua makes his debut in place of Anthony Quinn. Bryan Norrie and Todd Lowrie are starting for Jason Ryles and Jaiman Lowe.
GLD - William Zillman is out, David Mead to fullback. Steve Michaels goes to the wing and Luke O'Dwyer to centre. There is a reshuffle in the pack too with Nate Myles starting at prop with Greg Bird returning and going to the 2nd row with Ben Ridge. On the bench now, Luke Douglas and Mark Minichiello.
12 min: TRY
David Mead chimes in early as the fullback does in the modern game, throwing a lovey cut-out to Steve Michaels to score. Prince can't convert from the sideline.
Gold Coast Titans 4-0
17 min: Luke Bailey is off with a suspected Achilles heel injury.
18 min: More bad news for the Titans with Ashley Harrison off the field injured as well.
22 min: TRY
A knock on from the debutant Fonua gifts the Titans another chance. They go close on the first tackle but tackled short. Ben Ridge decides to go himself and scores! Prince makes no mistake with this conversion.
Gold Coast Titans 10-0
24 min: Everything is going for the Titans here.. penalty to them for markers not being square.
25 min: Todd Lowrie makes good first up contact forcing it loose. Melbourne scrum.
26 min: Melbourne needed that and their captain stepped up and delivered a huge 40/20.
27 min: Storm are building the pressure here.. Cronk putting a grubber through which is taken dead. Dropout.
28 min: Here we go.. Storm try their sweeping backline play but it breaks down when it gets to Slater. Penalty for offside.
29 min: The defense from the Titans has held strong but they will have to add six more tackles to their count with another line dropout.
30 min: Sika Manu tries a circus trick in juggling the ball but he's no professional and drops it.
31 min: Bellamy will be livid with this first half performance from the Storm. They have been out of sync, conceding another penalty. Titans will attack here.
32 min: Penalty for the Storm.. silly stripping penalty from the Titans.
34 min: Smart kick from dummy-half from Cameron Smith is cleaned up by Scott Prince. Dropout number FOUR by the Titans here.
VIDEO REFEREE: Melbourne might have a TRY here from extraordinary defense.
35 min: NO TRY! It was knocked on. 20 metre tap Titans.
39 min: Storm put the chip kick on for Slater who can't regather so kicks for himself again.. He might get there.. NO! Luke O'Dwyer saves the day and is pushed back. Dropout #5
40 min: Fourth tackle kick from the Storm goes to Waqa who taps it back and it's kept alive right into the hands of the Titans. HALFTIME.
We're back for the second half.. which will be an important one for the Storm if they want to prove last week wasn't a fluke.
41 min: Prince puts boot to ball and we're underway again.
VIDEO REFEREE: Melbourne are claiming a try and once again it's Slater.
43 min: TRY
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Slater has got this one off a lovely movement from the Storm. Smith converts.
Gold Coast Titans 10-6
47 min: TRY
Blink and you'll miss the Titans still having the lead. Cooper Cronk this time makes the break and backs himself to get to the tryline and he does! Ten all with this kick to take the lead and Smith nails it.
Melbourne Storm 12-10
49 min: Good work from David Mead to gather the kick but undoes it all with a knock on.
49 min: Forward pass quells a promising attack from the Storm.
54 min: Early kick from the Storm bores fruit. They force a knock on and here they come again. Or not it's a penalty against Melbourne.
59 min: Penalty Melbourne.. markers not being square.
VIDEO REFEREE: Once again for another Melbourne try.
62 min: TRY
TRY time! Ryan Hoffman the scorer this time, he also gives a big slide into the in-goa after bursting through the line. Smith makes no mistake again.
Melbourne Storm 18-10
65 min: Penalty Titans.. for Storm players not moving quick enough.
68 min: Melbourne on the attack again after an obstruction penalty. Fonua on his debut goes close actually he's over but not with the ball sadly. Knock on.
69 min: Fonua and Slater combine to save a 40/20 and they'll ruck it out.
73 min: TRY
Aidan Sezer puts a nice pinpoint kick on the chest for David Mead who is able to touchdown before Cronk can hold him up! Prince converts.
Melbourne Storm 18-16
77 min: TRY
Wow, some serious hot potato there from Melbourne. Sika Manu goes close but he's tackled, throws it back and then it finds it's way into the hands of Gareth Widdop who weaves to score. Smith puts it beyond a converted try with this conversion.
Melbourne Storm 24-16
77 min: Short kick from the Titans is no good. Lowrie comes up with it.
VIDEO REFEREE: Melbourne have hit the go button and a nice interchange of passes might have seen them score.
78 min: NO TRY! Mead got to the ball first. It will be a line dropout.
79 min: Chambers goes close but has had the ball pinched by Mead.
80 min: Storm have done enough with a second half surge to defeat a gallant Titans side here. FULLTIME.