Melbourne showed they were serious NRL finals contenders by knocking over competition heavyweights North Queensland 14-6 on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
After turning in their worst performance of the season to lose to battlers Newcastle at the same venue on Monday night, the Storm rebounded with an impressive display that kept alive their slim top-four hopes.
Melbourne moved up to fifth on the back of the win, while the Cowboys remained third.
An uncharacteristic Johnathan Thurston error led to the Storm’s third try in the 43rd minute which gave them a 14-0 lead.
The North Queensland skipper fumbled a Cooper Cronk kick in the in-goal, with Storm centre Will Chambers pouncing on the spilt ball.
The Cowboys were unlucky not to have a try on the board heading into the halftime break.
With two minutes remaining, dangerous fullback Lachlan Coote made a break and offloaded to centre Kane Linnett who found Thurston.
He chipped ahead for winger Kyle Feldt to touch down but the superb team effort counted for zip when the video referees ruled no try because Cronk had been taken out of play early in the move.
Despite wet and greasy conditions in Melbourne, it was a high-quality match with both teams throwing everything at their opponents.
The Cowboys dominated early but came up empty-handed and then momentum swung the Storm’s way and they were able to capitalise.
Their opening try came in the 28th minute when skipper Cameron Smith dummied before finding Kenny Bromwich on the charge.
Melbourne fullback Cameron Munster was a constant attacking threat while he also prevented a Cowboys try late in the game.
Thurston made amends when he set up his team’s sole try with a kick into the in-goal for Feldt but, with only a minute left on the clock, it was too little too late.
Cowboys coach Paul Green said having the try disallowed made a “massive difference” and the obstruction ruling was confusing as he felt Cronk instigated the contact.
“It would have certainly changed the context of the game,” Green said.
Green said there were some positives his team could take out of the loss.
“Our goalline defence was excellent and that was an area we’ve been looking to improve.
“We had our chances and where we’ve been good, which is probably our attack, we were just probably off a little bit.
“But we’ll finish top three which is where you want to be – in the top four.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy was delighted with his team’s performance after their Knights showing just five days earlier.
“Our attack at times got wayward but our defence was outstanding,” Bellamy said.
“It was a really good response after Monday night.”