Melbourne's Round 1 streak continues
The Storm have made it 12 Round 1 victories on the trot, defeating the Dragons 18-16 on Monday night in front of 12,148 fans.
The see-sawing contest saw multiple momentum shifts throughout the game, but the Storm were able to capitalise to open their season with a win.
In his 50th first grade game, Marika Koroibete was the hero for the home side as he continued his try-scoring form from last season.
The speedy Fijian crossed twice in the first half, and showcased his blistering pace to get on the outside of Josh Dugan for his second.
It wasn't one-way traffic all night though, as the Dragons dominated the opening 15 minutes at AAMI Park.
A knock on from a high ball off Young Tonumaipea gave the Dragons six more in a dangerous area, and from the resulting set, St George Illawarra opened the scoring as Kurt Mann's crafty pass allowed Jason Nightingale to find his way to the corner.
The Dragons then forced back-to-back goal-line dropouts as Melbourne were struggling to stand up to the constant pressure.
A failed onside kick from the second dropout saw Cooper Cronk knock the ball on, and heap the pressure back on the home side. After a goal-line scramble on tackle six, Benji Marshall gathered the loose ball and scored to assert the Red V's dominance.
From that moment on it was all the Melbourne Storm for the remainder of the first half, as Slater set up Koroibete twice in seven minutes to bring the home side back within two.
Slater didn’t skip a beat in his first game since State of Origin II last year, and despite the shoulder being tested by Dragons players throughout the night, the fullback was up to the physical challenge.
Two penalty goals from Cameron Smith right in front of the uprights were enough to give the Storm a 12-10 lead with two minutes remaining in the opening half. Gareth Widdop missed one he should have kicked on the half-time siren, and the Storm headed to the sheds in front.
The home side picked up right where they left off after the break, and it didn’t take them long to hit the scoreboard again.
Kiwi Prop Jesse Bromwich managed to get his hand free in a four-man tackle and offload to Smith metres out from the line, with Smith linking up with Jesse's younger brother Kenny to extend the lead, the skipper converting the try to see the Storm go up by 8.
While Koroibete was sound offensively, his costly error just metres out from the Storm line made for some nervous moments. The winger misjudged a kick and could only get his hand on it, allowing Tyson Frizell to pounce on the loose ball and get his team back within a try.
The four-pointer resulted in another momentum swing in the match, with the Dragons owning the next 10 minutes of the match. They were unable to capitalise however due to some resilient defending from Melbourne.
The Dragons gave away some costly penalties in the final 20 minutes to allow the Storm to regain their composure.
Both sides shared the majority of possession in the final period of the match, and if not for a kick being centimetres too long for Josh Dugan, the Dragons may have stolen a last-ditch victory.
Melbourne Storm 18 (Marika Koroibete 2, Kenny Bromwich tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 16 (Jason Nightingale, Benji Marshall, Tyson Frizell tries; Gareth Widdop 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 12, 148. Half-time Storm 12-10.