Melbourne have grinded out a 14-12 victory over the defending premiers the Sydney Roosters to make it six wins in a row and secure a vital win at Adelaide Oval tonight.
After going into the break at 12 all with two tries each in the first half, it was only a crucial Cameron Smith penalty goal with 15 minutes remaining which proved the difference. Storm skipper Smith playing in his 398th NRL game pulled off a classic move, when he was able to push the referees' hand by expertly managing to catch his opposite Victor Radley offside in front of the posts to give his side the chance to break the deadlock. The Storm skipper quickly pointed to the posts and took the two points on offer, which ultimately proved the difference between last years Grand Finalists.
The Storm traditionally crave a grinding affair and they were able to entice the Roosters into their grip in the second half, with both Smith and former Storm half Cooper Cronk directing both sides around the park.
All eyes were on Roosters superstar Latrell Mitchell in the build up and the NSW hopeful put in a solid performance in the unfamiliar five-eighth position, pulling off a try saving tackle on Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu and very nearly provided the match winner, with a offload while holding up three defenders which found his centre Brett Morris who could not quite convert to a try late in the match.
While it was a game that could have gone either way, the Roosters will be very disappointed with a highly uncharacteristic 53% completion rate, with some crucial errors in their own red zone costing the Tricolours dearly.
As predicted, it was an arm wrestle early on and it was a penalty against Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster for a leg pull in front of the posts that opened the scoring. Latrell Mitchell making no mistake and the Roosters lead 2-0 after 9 minutes.
The Storm scored the first try however, when Storm backrower Kenny Bromwich put his wingman Josh Addo-Carr away down the sideline. The NSW winger then found Munster, who found a flying Ryan Papahuyzen in support, who scored an electric try to open the Storm's account. Smith then converted and the Storm led 6-2.
The defending premiers hit back however, when halfback Cooper Cronk spotted the numbers down the blindside. Centre Brett Morris then unselfishly put his winger Daniel Tupou over to score in the corner. Latrell Mitchell then converted from the sideline to give the Roosters back the lead.
The Roosters then marched downfield, and off the back of a strong run from fullback James Tedesco, Mitchell then stepped out of dummy half close to the line and found a steaming Joey Manu who just managed to get the ball on the chalk to extend his sides lead by 12-6 nearing halftime.
Melbourne then struck a crucial blow, when half Brodie Croft put in a grubber behind the line, which was spilled by Tedesco. Croft managed to re-gather and scored next to the posts. Smith levelled the scores and it was 12 all at the break.
In the second half, it was the trademark style of football that the Storm are known for which prevailed, with Smith's crucial penalty goal putting his side in front, which allowed both Smith and half Brodie Croft to promptly take the high percentage plays and do enough to get their side over the line to send the Storm a massive six points clear of the second placed Rabbitohs and Roosters.
Melbourne now face the Dragons without their Origin stars in Round 16 next Thursday night in Wollongong, while the Roosters also minus their representative players will face the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium next Friday night.