Melbourne Storm has continued its hot streak against top-6 sides in the Jersey Flegg competition, defeating the 2nd-placed Cronulla Sharks 28-18 on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a constant shift in the makeup of the side due to injury, Storm continue to show resilience to take their run to five wins on the trot and close the gap to the top-4.
Storm got off to a strong start thanks to fullback Matthew Hill bursting through the Sharks defence on the left edge courtesy of a slick pass from Stanley Huen in the sixth minute.
It didn’t take the Sharks long to reply with an answer of their own, scoring two tries in ten minutes to take a 10-4 lead after the first twenty minutes.
With all the momentum going the Sharks way, a Keegan Russell-Smith and Jayden Weir one-two combination to break through the Sharks line on tackle five and a great grubber kick from the Storm halfback to the right edge saw Deontae Perese put enough pressure on the Sharks defence to make a mistake right on the goalline which saw Oscar Amosa pounce on the loose ball for the Storm’s second try.
Two more tries to the Sharks however saw the away side go into the halftime break with an 18-8 lead.
Needing to come out of sheds into the second half on the front foot, that’s exactly what the Storm did, building pressure through a repeat set and a spectacular kick cross-field from Keegan Russell-Smith allowed Deontae Perese to fly and take a magical contested grab and come down for the Storm’s third try on the left side of goal in the 42nd minute, with Russell-Smith’s conversion bringing the lead to within 4 points.
Some great line defence drew a penalty advancing the Storm closer to their end, and it only took three tackles for hooker Suliasi Prescott to jump out from dummy half and spot up Stanley Huen in the 50th minute who broke through the Sharks line to go all the way for a great solo run, with Russell-Smith’s conversion giving Storm the lead by two.
Forcing yet another repeat set, fullback Matthew Hill proved too strong for the Sharks right edge, bursting tackles to cross over for Storm’s fifth try in the 62nd minute, with Russell-Smith making it three from three conversions in the second half to push the lead out to eight points .
A penalty kick from Keegan Russell-Smith in the 68th minute proved to be the final nail in the coffin handing the Storm a ten-point win.
Storm will hit the road in Round 16 to battle it out with the 7th placed Newcastle Knights at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday at 11am.