Melbourne came out and put on a clinic against the highly fancied Manly side, dominating possession and field position to record a dominant 36-6 victory at Brookvale this evening.
Melbourne showed their intent very early on, when in the sixth minute, Melbourne had their backline set deep to the right, but Cameron Smith went left to the short side, passed to Kenny Bromwich, who drew the defender before offloading to Josh Addo-Carr, who stepped inside a defender and then ran in for a good try. Smith converted from out wide.
Shortly after, Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic came from the field with what was reported as a major pec injury.
In the 20th minute, Melbourne scored again, this time after a quick play-the-ball allowed Smith to saunter up to the line before sending a long ball to Justin Olam, who ran onto it and on a perfect line and through a gap to dive over for a try. Smith converted again from out wide on the left.
In the 29th minute Melbourne crossed again when big Nelson Asofa-Solomona forced his way across the stripe on the right side. Smith converted to give Melbourne an 18-0 lead.
With just a few minutes left in the half, Manly hit back when Daly Cherry-Evans held up a nice short ball for Taniela Paseka and the big forward strolled in for an easy try. Reuben Garrick converted.
11 minutes into the second half brought more bad news for Manly as Morgan Boyle came off the field clutching his wrist in great pain.
Shortly after, Ryan Papenhuyzen grubbered behind the Manly defence. Addo-Carr slid along the wet surface to collect the ball and flick it back infield in one motion and before going into touch. The ball came off a Manly defenders foot and Olam followed through to force the ball for a try. Smith failed to convert.
A penalty to the Storm in the 61st minute saw Smith kick a penalty goal.
A 68th minute scuffle saw Manly lose Jack Gosiewski to a bad leg injury, while Will Chambers was given ten minutes in the sin bin.
However, the Storm were unfazed. In the 71st minute Jahrome Hughes drifted left, stepped inside a defender, then passed out left to Papenhuyzen, who zoomed around the edge defence and forced his way over the line to score in the left corner. Smith converted from touch.
In the final 90 seconds of the game, Melbourne extended their lead even further when another kick by Papenhuyzen was blocked by a Manly defenders legs. Kenny Bromwich cleaned up the loose ball and dished it to Olam, who reached out in the tackle to score on the left side. Smith nailed the conversion once more to give the Storm the Minor Premiership and a confident big win.