Melbourne Storm have secured a finals berth after defeating a gallant Brisbane Broncos 22-12 in front of 20,032 at AAMI Park tonight.
Early in the piece, it was Brisbane who piled on the pressure with repeat sets but could not break through a tight Melbourne defence.
Both sides traded heavy blows in the opening term before Storm skipper Cameron Smith found space close to the try-line and fed Ryan Hoffman, who went on to charge over the line.
Cooper Cronk was at his brilliant best when he added Storm’s second of the night to put his team ahead by 12-points at the midway point of the first half.
New Zealand International Jesse Bromwich again displayed a solid performance in the middle and linking up well with Storm’s lively halves combination.
Brisbane were able to force themselves back into the game when Ben Hunt slipped around the corner of the Storm defence which narrowed their deficit to 6 points.
Continuing to apply pressure to the Storm defence as they looked to level the scores and draw closer, Brisbane hit back through centre Jack Reed just before half-time. Melbourne took a slender two-point margin into the break.
After the restart, Melbourne came close to extending their lead through two precise kicks from Cronk.
Storm were penalized early in the piece and the Broncos opted to kick for the points, leveling the score at 12-12 midway through the second stanza.
It took a Cooper Cronk lofted kick for Storm winger Mahe Fonua to pluck the ball from mid air and ground it to separate the two sides.
Shortly after the centre was involved again, latching onto a wayward Broncos pass for a 60 metre dash towards the try-line to make it 22-12 and secure the win for Storm.
Melbourne Storm 22
Tries: Mahe Fonua 2, Ryan Hoffman, Cooper Cronk
Goals: Cameron Smith 2, Will Chambers
Brisbane Broncos 12
Tries: Ben Hunt, Jack Reed
Goals: Corey Parker 2