Storm overcome Cowboys in tight contest
A clinical Melbourne Storm put in a workmanlike performance in the final home game of the season, outscoring the North Queensland Cowboys 14-6 in front of 15,214 spectators at AAMI Park.
A tense opening to the game saw both teams take a tentative approach to the play, which led to several penalties, totalling at 10 by half-time.
The first marks on the scoreboard were made after 17 minutes when Storm captain Cameron Smith elected to kick for goal following a series of penalties.
Melbourne's kicking game was at its best in an evenly contested first half.
This was highlighted in the 21st minute, when Storm halfback Cooper Cronk skilfully placed a kick in the path of Matt Duffie, who forced Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote across the line for a line drop out.
A patient attacking display from the hosts reached its peak after 28 minutes when Kenny Bromwich scored his third try for the season, diving directly under the posts.
Bromwich's try was the clubs 2000th in total since its inception into the NRL in 1998.
The visitors almost had their first scoring points for the game when a thrilling run led by Lachlan Coote ended with Kyle Feldt crossing the white chalk.
However, the try was disallowed when the video referee noted that Gavin Hooper had apprehended Cooper Cronk on the defensive line.
A closely contested first half ended with Melbourne taking a slender 8-0 lead into the main break.
Storm picked up where they left on in the second half as Cronk continued to look for the repeat set on the back of an excellent kicking game.
Melbourne continued to dominate the possession in the second half and were compensated for their efforts in the 42nd minute when a Cronk grubber was spilled by Johnathan Thurston.
This allowed Will Chambers to capitalise with the Origin representative scoring the ninth try of his 2015 campaign.
With time going against them, the Cowboys upped their attacking pressure in their final third in the hope of reducing the deficit on the scoreboard.
The away side appeared certain to break their deadlock in the 58th minute when Justin O'Neill stormed towards the white chalk. The wingers imminent try attempt was remarkably halted by an acrobatic effort from Marika Koroibete.
Kyle Feldt scored a late consolidation try for the Cowboys, with Thurston converting his lone attempt on goal.
Despite the Cowboys continuing to up their attacking pressure, the Storm back line held strong in a determined performance that helped Storm consolidate their top eight position.
Melbourne Storm 14
Tries: Kenny Bromwich, Will Chambers
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/3
North Queensland Cowboys 6
Tries: Kyle Feldt
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 1/1
1. Cameron Munster 2. Marika Koroibete 3. William Chambers 4. Kurt Mann 5. Matt Duffie 6. Blake Green 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (c) 17. Jordan McLean 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Tohu Harris 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 10. Tim Glasby 13. Kenny Bromwich 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 19. Christian Welch
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Ray Thompson 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Matthew Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. Ben Hannant 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 16. Scott Bolton 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. John Asiata 17. Ben Spina