Melbourne Storm scored their 17th straight win this season after a tight 28-18 success against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles tonight at Suncorp Stadium.
It was a classic contest - something which has been lacking thus far in the 2021 NRL season - but it finished the usual way. Melbourne Storm continuing their impressive win streak and moved a step closer to being crowned Minor Premiers again.
Billed all week as a classic clash, the game delivered in spades. The sides were locked 8-all at half-time before the Storm showed the extra dose of class to run out ten-point winners directed well by Cameron Munster and interchange star Harry Grant beat one of the form sides of the competition.
For a short period, Manly had the Storm rattled. Reuben Garrick finished off a sweeping move to put the northern beaches side ahead by four points after they scrambled enough to make it 8-all at the break. Errors after their positive work is not something you can get away with against Melbourne and they were punished.
Melbourne put fellow contenders Penrith to the sword last weekend, it looked for the majority of the first half they might do similar to the Sea Eagles. Kenneath Bromwich slid over quite easily after ten minutes. Fullback Nicho Hynes added a further two to stretch the lead to eight, as the Storm aimed to extend their imperious record in the sunshine state and send a message to the competition.
The Sea Eagles defended bravely and their scramble helped them avoid further damage headed into the break. It took a heads-up piece of work from speedster Jason Saab, who snaffled an intercept to streak away for 8-6. Garrick added a late penalty goal to make sure the ledger was even at the break.
When the game was there to be decided, Melbourne's extra class shone through. Harry Grant provided the piece of magic to help them across the stripe. His pass to a rampaging Justin Olam to make it 14-all and the Papua New Guinea centre was first to a loose ball to give the Storm the lead.
Jarome Hughes didn't take his usual control of the contest but the halfback produced the moment of the contest to push the Storm towards the victory. He sliced through the middle of the Sea Eagles defense before his kick ended up Munster touching down for 26-18. Ryan Papenhuyzen added a penalty goal which made the advantage 10 points.
It wasn't to be for the Sea Eagles side against Melbourne but they went blow-for-blow with the front runners tonight. Tom Trbojevic gave his side some important touches including being the provider for both of Garrick's tries tonight. Manly moved the ball well side-to-side which stretched the Storm defense but were unable to find the finish to snap the sneak tonight.
Melbourne remain in the box seat for the Minor Premiership. Storm face recent rivals Canberra Raiders next weekend in their march towards the trophy before finishing the season with games against the Sharks, Eels and Titans. Manly Sea Eagles still hold a six point break on seventh and eighth and should be playing finals football in 2021 and once they make that who knows what happens.