Storm threw everything at a determined Bulldogs side but were ultimately unable to find enough answers, going down 18-12 at AAMI Park on Monday night.
It was the typically physical battle we have come to expect from these two sides as the contest took on a tight arm wrestle in a gripping second half.
Storm displayed plenty of dare in attack, showing a willingness to throw the football around but came up just short against a strong Canterbury defence.
Jesse Bromwich was dominant up the middle with 165 metres while Cameron Munster lead all comers with 200m on the night.
Melbourne burst out of the blocks in surprising fashion with skipper Cameron Smith producing a 40-20 kick inside the opening minute. A penalty soon followed in front of the posts and the skipper took the two points to get the home side on their way.
The Bulldogs spent almost the entire opening 10 minutes on the back foot however an ironic toe poke would see them score the game’s first try.
It came as Moses Mbye stuck a foot into the path of a Blake Green grubber kick. The young halfback then ran onto the loose ball and set off 95m downfield to score.
It took until the 18th minute for Canterbury to have a set of six in the Storm half but they would make it count to extend their lead.
Sam Perrett leapt high to collect a Josh Reybolds chip kick and the Bulldogs second of the night. Kerrod Holland then made it two straight sideline conversions for a 12-2 lead.
Storm had had six more sets than their opponents in the first half and plenty of good ball but struggled to find a way through.
Cameron Munster went within inches of scoring when a Green grubber bounced fortuitously into his path, only for the youngster to be held up over the line.
Some fleet Cooper Cronk footwork sent him over shortly after, only for it to be disallowed by an obstruction call.
Third time was indeed the charm though for Melbourne as they finally struck just three minutes before the break. A quick-fire move to the left was capped off by a gutsy effort from Tohu Harris who stretched out to cut the deficit back to just four points at the break.
With everything to play for in the second half the physicality went up yet another notch between these two rivals.
Storm’s territorial dominance continued and they soon had the second try they deserved.
It came off a rather stangnant Cronk grubber behind the Bulldogs line which bobbled off hands before falling back to Young Tonumaipea. The Victorian then fought off two defenders for an outstanding finish to ground the ball over the line and square the scores at 12-all.
Playing full of heart Melbourne pressed the Bulldogs further, forcing them on their heels for much of the 20 minutes after the restart.
Again though they were unable to make their weight of possession count. Bouyed by their resilience, the Bulldogs marched back up field and back into the lead on 62 minutes.
It was Holland who finished strongly from a makeshift Bulldogs play involving several offloads. The second gamer also nailed his third conversion to put his side six points to the good.
An arm-wrestle then followed for the final stages as both sides traded possession but Storm unable to draw level.
Melbourne Storm 12
Tries: Tohu Harris, Young Tonumaipea
Goals: Cameron Smith 2
Canterbury Bulldogs 18
Tries: Moses Mbye, Sam Perrett, Kerrod Holland
Goals: Kerrod Holland 3