A second half surge was not enough for Melbourne to return to the winner’s list in Auckland as the Warriors scored a 28-14 victory on Sunday.
17,278 fans at Mt Smart Stadium were treated to a free flowing encounter played at a frenetic pace with momentum shifting on numerous occasions.
After a brilliant start thanks to a precise Cooper Cronk kick, Melbourne were forced to defend deep in their own half during the opening stages of the match.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner fired a warning shot to the Melbourne defence, only to be denied by the video referee before the Warriors found a gap on the right hand side. Tuimoala Lolohea was the beneficiary, busting through the line to give his side an early lead.
Taking hold of the momentum, tries to David Fusitua and Bodene Thompson handed the hosts a stranglehold on the match as they skipped out to a 16-0 lead.
Multiple near misses for Melbourne, including two to winger Richie Kennar meant Craig Bellamy’s side entered the half-time break without a try.
Needing an early response in the second stanza, Storm found it thanks to a classy Cooper Cronk kick. Marika Koroibete capitalised, starting the Melbourne fight back.
After several attacking raids, Melbourne drew closer with Kenny Bromwich having maximum impact off the bench to reduce the Warriors’ lead.
Against the run of play, a piece of improvisation from the Warriors ended with Lolohea finishing one of the tries of the season which looked to have stopped the Storm charge.
Refusing to lie down Kenny Bromwich’s second four pointer of the evening drew the visitor’s to within six points, setting up a tight finish.
As Melbourne continued to press searching for a crucial away win, Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson ended any hopes of a Melbourne victory with some fancy footwork.
Melbourne Storm 14
Tries: Marika Koroibete 44m, Kenny Bromwich 53m, Kenny Bromwich 61m
Goals: Cameron Smith 1
Tries: Jonathan Wright 11m, David Fusitua 22m, Bodene Thompson 34m, Tuimoala Lolohea 57m, Shaun Johnson 66m
Goals: Shaun Johnson 4