Melbourne Storm’s 2015 season has ended in a 32-12 defeat to North Queensland at AAMI Park.
In front of an NRL record crowd of 29,315 at AAMI Park in Melbourne, the Cowboys made the most of their opportunities in the Preliminary Final to book a date with the Broncos in next week’s Grand Final.
In an electric opening, the Cowboys took the first look at open the scoring going close through Antonio Winterstein before Melbourne transitioned to the other end of the field.
Making the most of a blocking penalty, Storm made no mistake from close range sending the home faithful into raptures. Captain Cameron Smith played in his halfback Cooper Cronk for the opener.
Conceding the opener sparked the visitors into action as they responded with vigour. Former Storm flyer Justin O’Neill scored twice in the opening stanza against his former side to turn the tables.
In what you would expect in a Preliminary Final, both sides traded telling blows before Storm struck back to regain the lead through a barnstorming Tohu Harris.
With the main break fast approaching, North Queensland maestro had one last say to end the half as he created chaos with a cross field kick which gave the visitor’s a narrow advantage.
A blistering start to the second half from the Cowboys, spearheaded by Thurston and finished off by Michael Morgan handed the visitors a healthy 14-point lead with over half of the second 40 minutes remaining.
A brave Storm line-up defended stoutly, even when reduced to 12 men following the sin binning of Marika Koroibete until Gavin Cooper’s second of the evening broke the hearts of the Storm faithful.
Melbourne Storm 12
Tries: Cooper Cronk 9m, Tohu Harris 35m
Goals: Cameron Smith 2
North Queensland Cowboys 32
Tries: Justin O'Neill 14m, Justin O'Neill 20m, Gavin Cooper 40m, Michael Morgan