Melbourne Storm weren't at their fluid best, but overcame Gold Coast Titans 10-8 on a calm night at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
The Storm have one hand on the NRL Minor Premiership, after tries to Cameron Munster and Curtis Scott in the second half, saw them grind out a victory against a vibrant Titans side, which sees Billy Slater head off a victor in possibly, his final game in Queensland in his star-studded career.
For long periods of the contest, it looked like Slater was signing off on a sour note. The Titans were at their committed best, and it was another fullback that stole the show in the first half, Gold Coast's AJ Brimson. The youngster scored the only try of the first half, showed his guile to evade a defender then spun across the stripe. Taylor added a pair of goals, making it 8-nil.
Despite their lead, the Titans might have left some points on the board, as they were camped in the Storm half for the first 40. Some sloppy execution on their final tackle options, and passing sequences prevented them and gave the Storm some life headed into the second half.
A team looking to secure their fourth Minor Premiership, looked renewed in the second half. Both Munster and Scott, got themselves more involved and Billy Slater continued to buzz across the park, as the Storm grinded their noses in front.
Tries in the 46th and 59th minute from the five-eighth and centre respectively, showed that the production line continues to roll on for the team from south of the border. Munster's effort was straight from a video game, as he drifted across field, probing for an opening then slammed on the afterburner's to make it 10-8 Storm.
The victory puts the Storm on the precipice of the Minor Premiership, after the earlier stumble from South Sydney and the Roosters game to follow. For a side, that floated through the first half of the season, Melbourne have pulled the right rein again, now look as one of the premiership heavyweights as we move into September.
For the Titans, there were plenty of positives to take into their final game against North Queensland next weekend. AJ Brimson continues to star in the custodian role while young forward, Moeaki Fotuaika had plenty of energy and burst in his stints on the field. As they look to bring some success to the glitter strip, Gold Coast look on the right path headed into 2019.
The Gold Coast remain at home next weekend, host the Cowboys at a sold-out Cbus Super Stadium as the NRL farewells Johnathan Thurston. Melbourne head home and host the Panthers on Friday night where a win will all but secure them the minor premiership.