Dan Walsh, NRL.com
Defying sub-Antarctic conditions, a Billy Slater double and a clinical Storm outfit that spent 25 minutes of the first half hammering the Roosters line, two crucial second-half plays from halfback Mitch Pearce delivered the premiers a fifth straight win that takes them to an equal share of first place alongside Manly and arch-rivals the Rabbitohs.
The Chooks' triumph sets up a bumper clash with their traditional sparring partner South Sydney next Thursday, with a shot at the J.J Giltinan shield on the line should the Sea Eagles drop either of their remaining two clashes with Penrith and North Queensland.
On a night made for the big men, it was three of the smallest on the field having the greatest impact, with Slater's two tries and a short kicking game from Cooper Cronk you could set your watch to trumped only by the late heroics of Pearce, who scored a game-breaking 64th minute try before setting up the match-winner for Aidan Guerra eight minutes later.
The Storm were at their clinical best in spite of a persistent sideways drizzle that offered the excuse not to be, completing 19 of 21 first half sets while the premiers fumbled their way to 15 errors throughout the match, though a dropped ball from Melbourne winger Marika Koroibete with the Storm's very first possession started the match in the exact opposite fashion they would play it out in.
The Roosters wasted little time breaching the Melbourne defence from the very next set, an unmarked Daniel Tupou pouncing on a grubber out of acting half from Jake Friend in the fourth minute.
From the ensuing kickoff the Storm, helped by a 5-2 first half penalty count, made themselves comfortable down the Roosters end of an increasingly sodden pitch, spending 25 of the next 35 minutes in opposition territory.
Despite the Storm's best efforts, the home side absorbed all that was thrown at them like a giant red, white and blue sponge, with everyone from young buck Dylan Napa to slightly built five-eighth James Maloney ringing the white and purple bells with heavy hits on their own goal line.
It took the wet-weather nous of messrs Cam Smith and Slater – the former turning the latter back against the grain close to the ruck – to finally crack the Bondi Wall, levelling the scores at 6-apiece after 22 minutes.
Off the back of a contentious knock-on ruling against Friend, who found himself caught up in the legs of tackler Ben Roberts, the Storm kept their foot hovering over the premiers' throats with the kicking games of Smith and Cooper Cronk forcing three consecutive repeat sets, only for a Mitch Pearce shot on Ryan Hoffman to force an error and ensure there was no addition prior to the break.
A penalty goal from Maloney three minutes into the second stanza pushed the Chooks back in front, only for the pivot to drop an absolute sitter from the ensuing kickoff to gift the Storm a scrum 10 metres out from their line. Never needing to be asked twice, Smith and Slater again combined to slice through like a surgeon's scalpel and wrestle back a 12-8 advantage.
With the Storm again making all the running as the contest wore on, Pearce struck against the current of purple dominance, swooping on a Sisa Waqa dropped ball from a scrum restart on the winger's 20 metre line and pushing his side back in front by two.
But a second mistake off the restart, this time from Tupou, again handed prime attacking real estate to the Southerners. The Chooks' line held strong despite the Storm's ensuing offensive raid taking their time spent in Roosters turf past the 40 minute mark, and when Guerra touched down on a Mitch Pearce grubber the premiers put the result to bed with five minutes remaining.
A spectacular 79th minute effort from Tupou in the left corner drew the Roosters to within two points on for-and-against of the still top-of-the-table Rabbitohs, and delivered the final nail for a Storm outfit that now faces a must-win scenario in next Friday's home clash with Brisbane to have a chance of finishing in the top four.
Sydney Roosters 24 (D Tupou 2, M Pearce, A Guerra tries; J Maloney 4 goals) defeated Melbourne Storm 12 (B Slater 2 tries; C Smith 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 13,879.