Storm stroll to easy win over Cowboys, but defence a big worry

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Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys

Melbourne have kept themselves in contention for the Minor Premiership in a less than convincing effort against the Cowboys, recording a 36-20 win at Sunshine Coast Stadium this afternoon.

Melbourne created a plethora of opportunities and looked like racking up a cricket score, but they lacked the polish to capitalise on a number of opportunities, while defensively they looked very vulnerable, allowing the Cowboys to score easy tries in the second half.

Despite the Storm making inroads with nearly every run to start the game, it was the Cowboys who scored first in the fifth minute. Esan Marsters put in a little grubber on the short side and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow outpaced the Storm defenders to regather before stretching out after being tackled, to score in the left corner. Valentine Holmes was unable to convert from touch.

Just 2 minutes later, while the Cowboys were in possession, Josh McGuire played the ball and then proceded to be aggressively vocal towards the referee and was promptly given ten minutes in the sin bin.

In the 9th minute, Melbourne crossed for their first try thanks to a nice flat crash ball from Cameron Smith to Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who hit the line at pace. Reuben Cotter had no chance of stopping him and the big forward scored near the posts. Smith converted.

Four minutes later the Storm recycled the same play that lead to their first try, but this time Smith hit Tino Fa'asuamaleaui who crashed over in the middle. Smith easily added the extras.

The Storm looked like they were about to put on a big score after Josh Addo-Carr took a standard line-run on the right edge, bumped out of a poor tackle, then ran infield where everyone just stood around and admired his glorious running stride as he scored under the posts far too easily. Smith converted.

Just before halftime, Melbourne crossed again after Smith dished a standard ball to the left to Munster, who saw nothing but the tryline in front of him and he wandered over to score under the posts. Smith nailed the easy conversion from right in front yet again. The Storm held a convincing 24-4 lead at the break.

Five minutes into the second half, the Storm capitalised on back-to-back set restarts when Cameron Munster received the ball back on the inside, stepped and then stunningly hurdled over John Asiata who was lying on the ground, to get across the line to score near the sticks. Smith again converted. It looked like Melbourne were about to run away with the game.

The Cowboys hit back in the 58th minute when Esan Marsters got outside his man on the left side, dummied to his winger, split the two Storm defenders, shrugged off the tackle attempt by Suliasi Vunivalu to score a good try under the posts. Holmes converted.

Just four minutes later, the Cowboys looked to score again where Holmes took on the line, drew the winger and then passed to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who dived for the corner, but the Bunker found that he planted the ball just on the sideline. Jahrome Hughes was then penalised for being offside during the play.

From the next set, Scott Drinkwater kicked early in the set after spotting Addo-Carr out of position. Kyle Feldt leapt, took the ball cleanly and got the ball down for a good try. Holmes failed to convert from touch.

Melbourne looked to extinguish any chances of a Cowboys fightback just four minutes later when Smith passed to the trailing runner in Jesse Bromwich, who then got a good ball to Hughes in support who hit a gap at pace and scored to the right of the posts. Smith converted yet again from almost in front.

The Cowboys refused to yield and crossed yet again just three minutes later. Holmes received the ball on the left side, dummied to his winger, stepped inside and shrugged off Munster to score. Holmes then converted his own try from out wide.

Neither side was able to add to their score in the final 10 minutes and the Storm won by 16 points, in a performance that would have coach Craig Bellamy less than impressed just weeks away from the finals.

Melbourne Storm 36 - North Queensland Cowboys 20

Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium
Crowd: 0
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 24 North Queensland Cowboys 4

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cameron Smith
2 points - Cameron Munster
1 points - Nelson Asofa-Solomona

MELBOURNE STORM (36)
Tries: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster (2), Jahrome Hughes
Field Goals:
Conversions: Cameron Smith (6/6)
Penalty Goals:

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (20)
Tries: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Valentine Holmes, Esan Marsters, Kyle Feldt
Field Goals:
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (2/4)
Penalty Goals:


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