Melbourne Storm have fallen to a 22-0 defeat against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday evening.
A determined defensive performance from Storm was not enough for Melbourne in Townsville, struggling to break down Paul Green’s side in attack.
Craig Bellamy was forced to make major changes to his line-up pre match, covering the toll of Wednesday night’s Origin encounter. Cameron Smith held his place in the starting 17, shaking off an ankle injury, while young fullback Cameron Munster made his NRL debut.
The Storm defence absorbed plenty of pressure throughout the first half, holding out an enterprising North Queensland attack for the opening 20 minutes.
The hosts finally broke through thanks to some acrobatics from Antonio Winterstein which allowed edge partner Kane Linnett to score. Claiming the majority of possession and superior field position the Cowboys continued to attack only to be held out by a steadfast Melbourne defence.
Late tries to Winterstein and Johnathan Thurston pushed the North Queensland lead out to 16-0 at the main break, leaving the visitors with plenty to do in the second stanza.
Looking for an improved possession in the second half, Melbourne found it early on giving themselves to get back into the contest. Mistakes from both sides however meant little pressure could be built on either defence.
After battling manfully for much of the second half, Storm were hit by a counter punch by the Cowboys after several unsuccessful forays forward.
A piece of individual brilliance from Johnathan Thurston to keep the ball alive allowing his side to score the only points of the second half and in doing so shutting out hopes of any Storm comeback.
North Queensland 22
Tries: Kane Linnett 20m, Antonio Winterstein 36m, Johnathan Thurston 39m, Michael Morgan 66m
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 3
Melbourne Storm 0