The Melbourne Storm have posted their seventh win in a row after defeating the St George Illawarra Dragons 44-18 in the penultimate match of Magic Round.
Scoring nine tries to four in a fixture impacted by the NRL's reactionary crackdown on contact around the head, the Storm capitalised on Dragons' centre Tyrell Fuimaono being sent off early in the first half to retain their place in third position.
Scoring the first try of the afternoon after returning fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen fired the final pass to send Josh Addo-Carr (11th minute) over for his 12th try of the season, the Storm's joy was short-lived as Papenhuyzen was taken from the field by medicab due to Fuimaono making direct and forceful contact to the head.
Wasting little time in extending their lead with Josh McGuire also in the sin bin prior to Fuimaono's dismissal, Kenny Bromwich (16th minute) exposed the Dragons' left edge defence to give the ‘home side' a 10-0 lead.
Playing a man down and needing to be the next to score to remain in the contest, Matt Dufty stepped up with his favoured cut-out pass to put Mikaele Ravalawa (20th minute) over in his first game back from suspension.
Going close to levelling the scores minutes later only for Cody Ramsey to put a foot on the touchline while grounding, the Dragons were made to pay with Melbourne 18th man Dean Ieremia (30th minute) being on the spot to score his first try in the top grade as Addo-Carr received treatment for a hip-drop tackle committed by McGuire.
Refusing to lose contact with the contest, Dufty and Ravalawa (34th minute) combined once again to reduce the Storm's lead to 14-10 at the change of ends.
Taking advantage of Dufty injuring his AC joint minutes into the second half, Nelson Asofa-Solomona (47th minute) powered over next to the posts before Jahrome Hughes (51st minute) finished off a 50 metre bust to secure the win.
Producing a length of the field try from the ensuing kick-off, a break from Hynes, kick from Hughes and unselfish pass from Kenny Bromwich allowed Addo-Carr (54th minute) to bag his second of the afternoon.
Taking the score out to 34-10 after Justin Olam (58th minute) powered over from a scrum, Ravalawa (61st minute) scored his third against the run of play, only for the Storm to resume regular transmission with George Jennings (69th minute) and Addo-Carr (72nd minute) pushing the score out beyond 40 points for the fourth consecutive week.
The Dragons crossed for a consolation try in the shadows of fulltime with Ramsey (79th minute) finishing off a Josh Kerr break beginning from within his own half.
Next week, the Storm travel to GIO Stadium on Saturday evening to take on the Raiders, while the Dragons will have a short turnaround against the Sharks on Friday night.