The Melbourne Storm have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Wests Tigers, scoring two tries in the final ten minutes to run out 24-22 winners in front of 11,402 fans at AAMI Park.
In a match that saw the Tigers outclass their hosts in almost every facet, the premiership credentials of the Storm came to the fore in the closing stages to temporarily give the Victorian club the competition lead due to for-and-against.
Benefitting from a large penalty count in the first half, the Tigers opted to edge their way to a 6-2 lead via three penalty goals from Esan Marsters, with Melbourne captain Cameron Smith responding with one of his own during the opening 25 minutes.
With the match appearing to be headed towards another low-scoring affair in the vein of the Tigers two wins over the Storm last season (10-8 and 11-10), a length of the field effort from replacement fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen (28th minute) saw the home side take an 8-6 lead.
Striking back just before the break through interchange forward Josh Aloiai (33rd minute) to hit the front, 12-8, at the change of ends, the Storm were dealt a major blow with interchange forward Christian Welch suffering a suspected ACL tear, ending his season and ambitions for a Queensland debut in next month's Origin opener.
Capitalising upon a Brodie Croft error moments after the resumption of play, Luke Brooks (42nd minute) edged the visitors out beyond a converted try, only for Felise Kaufsi (52nd minute) to reply with his first try of the season following a well-placed kick from Cameron Munster next to the posts.
Making Melbourne pay for their errors in the next set through Marsters (55th minute), the Tigers 22-14 advantage appeared to be enough only for Craig Bellamy's men to lift with the match on the line.
Coming in for injured speedster Curtis Scott, rookie outside back Marion Seve (70th minute) crossed to narrow the margin to two points, before Will Chambers (77th minute) iced the result to leave the Melbourne faithful in raptures over their side's great escape.
Next week Melbourne travel to Belmore Oval to tackle the struggling Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, while Wests face South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday evening.