Storm fight off Broncos to extend six-year winning run in Melbourne
Melbourne have shown Brisbane who’s boss, winning their NRL top-four clash 32-20 in an arm-wrestle.
The Broncos hadn’t won in Melbourne since 2016 but arrived on Friday night with high hopes of breaking that drought and banking an eighth successive win.
The teams were locked at 16-16 at halftime, with Brisbane winger Corey Oates crossing twice to put his hand up to replace injured Xavier Coates in the Queensland State of Origin line-up.
Storm winger Dean Ieremia then took his turn to shine, collecting his own double in the second half as the home side got back on top.
Both times Melbourne sent the ball wide with centre Justin Olam finding the youngster on the fly.
“I thought probably that last seven or eight minutes into halftime was a killer blow and they picked up a couple of tries but apart from that we were in the fight,” said Brisbane coach Kevin Walters.
“They’ve been in the benchmark team for a long time and we’re on the way up so we’re disappointed with the loss but we’ve learned a few things.”
Melbourne dominated the early exchanges and came up with the first try of the night with Tui Kamikamika running on to a Harry Grant pass and crashing over line.
But the Broncos got their motors started and scored three times in nine minutes to hit the front.
As well as Oates’ haul, Maroons flyer Selwyn Cobbo touched down on the other wing.
With skipper Adam Reynolds out with a rib injury, Tyrone Roberts stood up in the No.7 jersey with his kicking and passing game en pointe.
In the Cobbo try he took on hard-hitting Storm centre Justin Olam and then fired a cut-out pass for the 20-year-old to dive across in the corner.
Kotoni Staggs’ sideline conversion opened up a 16-6 lead for Brisbane after 28 minutes but they let Melbourne back into the game as halftime closed.
Cobbo spilt a Jahrome Hughes’ kick that was pounced on for Cameron Munster to score and then Hughes and fullback Nick Meaney combined before the halfback showed his speed to race to the line to level.
After six tries in the opening stanza they proved harder to come by in the second half with Ieremia coming up with the goods in the 56th and 63rd minutes.
Hughes capped a starring performance with a clever grubber kick into the in-goal which he followed up to put the result out of doubt.
Ezra Mam scored a consolation try with three minutes on the clock after a Billy Walters’ break but it was the second-placed Storm’s night.
Coach Craig Bellamy was delighted with his team’s resilience to bounce back from a 10-point deficit to score 26 points straight.
“I was really happy – at 16-6 we were just trying to hang on, and we didn’t have any ball during that time and part of that was our own doing.
“It was really important to score those tries just before halftime to square it up and then to put 26 points on them in a row is pretty good effort.
“They’re a good side and have earned their spot in the top four so that was the highlight of our game.”
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