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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
A 75th minute penalty goal has seen the Melbourne Storm secure their seventh straight win, downing the St George Illawarra Dragons 16-14 in front of 5,578 supporters at WIN Stadium.
With a host of players unavailable due to representative commitments, the experience of Cameron Smith proved the difference for the vistors, with the evergreen hooker managing the wet conditions to perfection.
Eyeing off back-to-back wins for the first time since April, the Dragons were rewarded for an energetic start courtesy of Jeremy Latimore - in his first starting appearance since Round 7, 2015 - crashing over for his first try of the season in the seventh minute.
Responding through second rower Joe Stimson in the 16th minute, points proved elusive for both sides over the remainder of the first half, despite the visitors enjoying a wealth of possession courtesy of a 7-2 penalty count.
Taking an 8-6 halftime lead via a Smith penalty goal in the 38th minute, the opening of the second half saw the Storm struggle as debutant five-eighth Billy Walters - the son of Queensland coach, Kevin Walters - produced two poor kicks to provide the Dragons with quality attacking opportunities.
Opting to level the scores on the stroke of the hour mark through Jai Field, the Dragons quickly found themselves behind on the scoreboard following a superb team try finished off by Jahrome Hughes (61st minute).
Striking back after Brandon Smith was penalised for dangerous contact on Darren Nicholls moments earlier, Mikaele Ravalawa (68th minute) continued his impressive rookie season to tie the scores at 14-all heading into the final ten minutes.
Earning a penalty after the Dragons were deemed to have committed an escort, Cameron Smith secured the win with five minutes remaining via a goal that saw him become the first player in NRL history to score 2,500 points.
Next week, the Dragons host the Raiders on Sunday night in Woolongong, while on Saturday evening Cameron Smith will become the first NRL player to reach 400 games as the Storm face the Sharks at AAMI Park.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14 - Melbourne Storm 16
Venue: WIN Stadium
Halftime Score: St George Illawarra Dragons 6 Melbourne Storm 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cameron Smith
2 points - Jesse Bromwich
1 points - Blake Lawrie
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (14)
Tries: Jeremy Latimore, Mikaele Ravalawa
Conversions: Jai Field (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Jai Field (1/1)
MELBOURNE STORM (16)
Tries: Joe Stimson, Jahrome Hughes
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)