William Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent
A frustrating start to 2014 finally took an exciting turn for Melbourne winger Justin O'Neill in his side's last gasp 28-24 Monday night win over the Dragons.
In his second game back from knee surgery O'Neill was one of the Storm's best, running for 151 meters and finding the touch he felt had been lost since the early stages of last season.
A knee injury at the Auckland Nines at the end of February meant minor surgery and a delayed start to the 23-year-old's season.
However after two NSW Cup outings O'Neill returned in last week's two-point loss to the Titans and admitted being on the right side of the ledger this week makes the world of difference.
"Being a part of the team for the past couple of weeks on the back of those pretty bad losses, you do take on board how the team is feeling," said O'Neill.
"It put a dampener on the team, I could feel it when I came back from injury and I really wanted to help out and get that win."
The Storm certainly did not make it easy to get that win.
A Trent Merrin try with just under half an hour to play left the home side with a 24-10 deficit and staring down the barrel of three straight defeats.
But three tries in the final 13 minutes, including one after the siren straight out of the wishing well, snatched the two-points in a truly Houdini-like escape.
"After that try we got in the huddle and said, 'There is still 27 minutes to go in the game, it's not over boys,'" said O'Neill.
"Everyone gritted their teeth and made sure we had a dig and sure enough points came from it.
"That never-say-die attitude you could see from the boys at the end there, wanting to win more than anything after a few losses as we've had.
"You definitely see the desire to win and it came in the end with the result."
Now with a much more favourable 4-2 record to take to Canberra this weekend, O'Neill is hoping his days on the sidelines are a thing of the past and that he can re-cement his place on the left side of the purple line.
The young centre also missed four of the first six games last season with a broken jaw and felt he battled for form for much of the season after his round seven return.
"I thought I lost a fair bit of form at that stage in my game and it's taken me a while to get back," said O'Neill.
"I was really happy with the recovery and it has been absolutely awesome since, I haven't had any dramas.
"I think tonight was a good step forward in the way I want to play and the level I want to play at."
If O'Neill's Monday night performance was just the base for him to build on, the Storm will have cause to be excited for what the promising centre can bring to the 2014 campaign.