A Cameron Munster masterclass has shown why the Melbourne Storm are in the elite company of the NRL following their 34-18 victory over the Cronulla Sharks in Melbourne.
The scoring was opened off the boot of Nicho Hynes for the Sharks when he kicked a penalty goal after earning a penalty for being hit late by Felise Kaufusi who went on report for the first time.
In an end-to-end match, it took 20 minutes for the first try to be scored and it came through Justin Olam who is almost impossible to stop close to the line as Melbourne worked a great play out to the right for a try.
The Sharks then hit back soon after with a great try of their own when mid-set they were able to create space with Nicho Hynes putting boot to ball out to Hiroti after sensing space. The Sharks then shifted the ball from right to left and Siosifa Talakai got the Sharks first of the night.
Cameron Munster got everybody's attention not long after when he was able to create something out of nothing and took off for a brilliant solo effort. The conversion from Ryan Papenhuyzen put the Sharks up 12-8. A missed penalty attempt on the stroke of halftime from Nicho Hynes was waved away after it hit the post.
Things couldn't have started any poorer for Cronulla to begin the second half after the kick-off from Cameron Munster found touch and then without a single tackle in the half, the Storm were able to score off the back of the scrum to give Justin Olam a double.
Trailing by 10, the Sharks needed to quickly find something and they did through their left handside attack of Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo who caused all sorts of problems as the soft hands of Talakai put his winger into space to score in the corner. The conversion from out wide from Nicho Hynes again came off the upright.
Both sides were going tit for tat and it wasn't long before Cameron Munster stepped up again as yet again, he just created something out of nothing when he drew the defence out with a dummy and just skipped through before finding Ryan Papenhuyzen who scored under the posts.
The weird beast that is NRL never stops giving and many were left stunned when play was stopped by referee Grant Atkins after a Sharks kick hit the wires of the Spider Cam and changed the trajectory of the ball. It didn't impact much as the play just restarted on the fifth tackle.
Needing a try to hit back, the Sharks again used their left side to exploit the Storm's outside backs and Talakai put Mulitalo through to score out wide. The much-needed conversion from Hynes was successful and the gap had closed back to six points.
If there is a team that knows how to shut out a game, it's the Melbourne Storm and they stepped up a gear when they were able to extend their lead after Harry Grant fought his way to the line after looking like he was held-up but kept momentum going to score the try. Back-to-back penalties helped Melbourne up field and extend the lead beyond 2 converted tries before Ryan Papenhuyzen extended the lead further with 8 minutes to go after a kick chaser was ruled to have been taken out and the Storm took their match winning 34-18 victory.
Next weekend, the Storm host the Warriors in their traditional Anzac Day Night match in Melbourne whilst the Sharks return to Shark Park for a clash with Manly on Thursday night.