The 2017 Grand Final replay looked on paper to be a keenly contested battle, however the match was riddled with penalties and poor execution, Melbourne coming away with a 30-14 win over the Cowboys at AAMI Park.
The Storm showed plenty of enterprise in the very first set when Chambers put in a little kick that was regathered by Croft, who passed to Vunivalu. The big winger attempted to pass it back to Croft but was wrapped up in the process and the ball went loose.
After a forward pass by Granville from dummy half deep inside his own half, the Storm scored back-to-back penalties. Smith opted to take the gift 2 points after the second penalty.
The Cowboys defence stepped up upon the resumption of play. They went on the attack and caught Cameron Smith offside. Thurston slotted a penalty goal to level the scores.
After another penalty, Smith turned the ball back to Slater, who made a good draw and pass to put Stimson over for a strong try. Smith converted and the Storm lead 8-0.
Vunivalu shortly after made a great run after fielding a kick, busting through the middle defence and heading into the Cowboys half before his poorly timed pass attempt to a flying and unmarked Addo-Carr, was knocked down by Hampton.
The Storm received another 2 penalties in short succession leading to Smith slotting another goal.
15 minutes from the break and the Cowboys received back-to-back penalties which lead to Thurston linking with Hess running a great and strong line back in against the line to score a good try. Thurston added the extras.
After a Michael Morgan 40/20 attempt went out on the full, the Storm scored again after Smith took on the line before getting a great short ball away to Welch who crashed over to score. Smith converted.
Fittingly, the Storm received a penalty right on halftime, it was the 11th of the half, and Smith slotted another two pointer to give his side a ten point buffer at the break.
The second half showed no change to the penalty bonanza and again it was back-to-back penalties that lead to a try when Hess barged over and scored a strong try. Thurston converted to get the Cowboys back within striking range.
After the Storm received back-to-back penalties, Smith kicked a penalty goal. The Storm ran away with the game in the last 7 minutes, with Chambers scoring a clever solo try after scooting away from dummy half. Croft slotted the goal from out wide.
Asofa-Solomona burrowed over for a good strong try after receiving a late pass from Cameron Smith. Croft failed to convert, but the game was done and dusted, the Storm winning 30-14.
Next week the Storm are off to Shark Park in Sydney for a re-match with 2016 Grand Final opponents (and premiers of that year) Cronulla on Friday night; North Queensland are back home in Townsville after a fortnight on the road, hosting Penrith in Thursday night footy.