Storm extend Dragons' losing streak
Melbourne have continued their return to form with a clinical 22-4 win over St George-Illawarra in the first ever NRL game played at McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand.
Two tries in each half and a steadfast defensive effort was enough for the Storm to launch themselves back into the top four for at least the time being.
It is a much different story for the Dragons who slumped to their seventh straight defeat - the worst losing streak in the joint merger's history.
Hawkes Bay hero Tohu Harris gave the locals plenty to cheer about with two assists while Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk had the St George-Illawarra defence in a spin on more than one occasion.
For the second straight week Cronk was pulled from the field prior to full-time but looked unfazed as he had ice applied to his knee.
The game received a feel-good boost prior to kickoff with winger Matt Duffie brought into the Storm side for his first game since Round 4, 2013.
The injury plagued 24-year-old showed why Melbourne have been so willing to stand by him, providing an aerial threat from the outset and ending with 91 run metres.
It was a game that saw the competition's third and fourth best defensive sides pitted against one so there was no surprise the opening 20 minutes was a predictably cagey affair.
Dragon hearts skipped a beat on 17 minutes when Josh Dugan was left clutching his right ankle following a Tohu Harris tackle but he recovered to play out the game seemingly unhindered.
In the 26th minute first blood could have and quite possibly should have gone to the Red V but when Benji Marshall's cut-out pass to Jason Nightingale was controversially judged forward the men in red were left feeling hard done by.
Their mood was not helped two minutes later when it was the Storm who landed the first blow through Nelson Asofa-Solomona. The teenage man mountain dragged three opponents over the line for his first NRL try and a 6-0 lead for his side.
The opening 40 minutes may have lacked attacking flair but three minutes from half-time it was the human highlight reel Marika Koroibete who got the Napier crowd on their feet.
A wayward Marshall pass landed in the hands of Hawkes Bay-native Harris who handed the ball to Koroibete on the Storm's own 40 and from there it was a script fans have become accustomed to seeing in 2015. The scintillating Fijian tore down the left wing, burning Gareth Widdop and any other would-be chaser to send the Storm 12-0 up heading into the break.
They made it 18-0 midway through the second term when two dummy runners saw the opposition defence part like the red sea and Kevin Proctor was only two happy to accept a Blake Green pass to stroll through.
Next to join the party was Mahe Fonua is rather fortuitous circumstances. A well-disguised cross-field kick by Cronk saw Harris tap back in play and into the waiting arms of Fonua to score.
Peter Mata'utia saved the Dragons the embarrassment of a shutout two minutes from full-time but it is tough times for the Red V who's once promising season is now quickly sinking into the abyss.
Melbourne Storm 22 (Marika Koroibete, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kevin Proctor, Mahe Fonua tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) def. St-George Illawarra Dragons 4 (Peter Mata'utia tries). Half-time: Storm 12-0. Crowd: .