Smith, Munster spark Storm past Rabbitohs
Melbourne Storm have scored a gripping 26-16 win over South Sydney.
In a thrilling finish to the Super Sunday top four shootout, the Storm held on to defeat the Bunnies in one of the most absorbing contests of the season.
In front of a bumper crowd of 19,533 at Central Coast Stadium, the Storm held off a courageous Souths who went into the game without their inspirational leader Sam Burgess.
Live stream the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership on KAYO SPORTS. Every game of every round live & anytime on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14 day free trial.
Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster produced a masterclass in the four tries to three victory that moves Melbourne to 36 competition points with four rounds still remaining and all but secures them the minor premiership.
Campbell Graham scored all three of Souths' tries to finish with his first NRL hat-trick thanks to some wonderful work from Cody Walker who had his best game since State of Origin.
There was some concern for Rabbitohs' halfback Adam Reynolds who struggled through the final quarter of the match with a leg problem although he managed to stay on the field.
Craig Bellamy had every right to be happy with the Storm's performance given they were also understrength with Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Brandon Smith all out injured.
The Storm also had to contend with the sin-binning of Felise Kaufusi who was marched in the second half for a professional foul when he took out Walker who was chasing a Damien Cook grubber in goal.
The Rabbitohs' performance was a huge improvement on the effort they produced last week in the loss to Cronulla.
The Storm's victory also handed Gosford-born rookie fullback Nicho Hynes a terrific debut memory after the 22-year-old Central Coast junior was called up to replace Hughes and he really held his own in one of the toughest games of the year.
The Storm now take on Canberra in Melbourne on Saturday while the Rabbitohs play Canterbury.
The Storm shot to an early 12-0 lead but the Rabbitohs' refused to go away and got the scores back to 12-all and later 20-16 before a late try sealed a deserving victory for the competition front runners.
MELBOURNE 26 (J Bromwich B Croft C Munster J Olam tries C Smith 5 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 16 (C Graham 3 tries A Reynolds 2 goals) at Central Coast Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, David Munro. Crowd: 19,533