A twenty-point individual performance from superstar Cameron Munster has guided the Melbourne Storm to back-to-back victories against a determined Gold Coast Titans side to win 32-14 at AAMI Park this evening.
It was a scrappy start to the game for the Storm with several late changes causing some mix-ups in combinations. Still, they went close to scoring in the sixth minute but new loanee David Nofoaluma lost the ball over the line. Eventually, the heavy weight of possession of the Storm had come to haunt the visitors and the defence was MIA for the Titans when Harry Grant provided a wonderful pass to Xavier Coates to cross for the first of the evening.
Seven minutes later, it was more of the same and it was the combination of Hughes and Munster that saw the Storm collect their second. It was a clever kick from Jahrome Hughes which saw Cam Munster fly high to collect the ball and score to give Melbourne an early ten-point cushion. The Gold Coast were their own worst enemy in the opening stanza with several errors setting the Storm up in good attacking areas.
It was an AJ Brimson error that gave the Storm quality field position and after a month of quiet footy, the Storm was firing on all cylinders. It was great shape out to their left-hand side with Hughes, Grant and Cooper Johns all touching the footy in the final player. Great pass from Johns and Kenny Bromwich crashed over to extend the margin to sixteen.
But, at the first time of asking since the opening minutes, the Titans crashed over for a much-needed four-pointer after Tanah Boyd found Beau Fermor and the margin was reduced to 12. Brandon Smith found himself on the report sheet with an alleged hip drop tackle on Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. From the ensuing penalty, Herman Ese'ese crashed over from short fire range and after being out of it for all money, the margin was cut down to just six points.
Unfortunately for the Titans, their defence is the worst in the competition and it was on show minutes later when Munster split them open to cross for his second try which extended the lead back out to twelve points and it's where the scores stayed at the break.
It was a horror start for the Storm in the second half when Josh King lost possession and gave the Titans a golden opportunity. Justin Holbrook's men hit back when Brimson's grubber was collected by Brian Kelly and the Titans reduced the gap to eight.
From there, the Storm attack struggled without Hughes who left at half-time after a shoulder injury and several big attacking opportunities went astray. But, when push came to shove. The Storm's class rose above and it was a clever pass from Grant which saw Munster stroll straight past some fatigued Titans forwards to cross for his third and give his side a big fourteen-point lead with fifteen minutes to go. Melbourne finished with a late try when Young Tonumaipea was on the end of a lovely pass from Johns to seal an 18-point victory for the Storm.
It does come at a cost with Jahrome Hughes' injury which we'll know more about tomorrow. Also facing a nervous wait is Brandon Smith following his ugly tackle on Tino. Next week they take on the premiers in Penrith. The Titans were far from disgraced, but it's the same problem areas that we've discussed all season that are their downfall. Next week, the visitors take on Manly at home.