Vunivalu scores four as Storm down Sea Eagles
A four-try haul to Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu has propelled the Storm to a 38-18 win over bitter rivals the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night.
Any thoughts the Storm had hit a flat spot following their last-start loss to the Raiders were quickly put to bed as Melbourne moved one step closer to securing their first minor premiership since 2011.
Vunivalu equalled Israel Folau's club record of 21 tries in a rookie season with the Fijian flyer claiming all four of his tries in a frenetic first 40 minutes.
Cooper Cronk and Cameron Munster were at their majestic best with a combined five try assists while the Storm forwards outran their opponents by a whopping 500 metres in a replay of the classic 2007 and 2008 grand finals.
Cameron Smith got the ball rolling with a 40/20 after just 40 seconds before stepping aside to let his winger steal the show.
The Storm sensation went into the game on a four-game try-scoring drought, but bounced back to form in the most brutal way imaginable.
It took 10 minutes for the 20-year-old to get going as he latched onto a perfect cut-out pass from Cameron Munster to open the scoring.
He was in again in the 26th minute when a towering bomb from Cronk was allowed to bounce by Tom Trbojevic and Jorge Taufua, with Vunivalu scooping up the loose ball to complete his double.
The Storm winger could have had a third shortly after but was somehow chased down by Sea Eagles prop Josh Starling with no one else to beat.
He didn't have to wait much longer to grab his third hat-trick of the season as he received another glorious ball from Munster to dive over in the right corner.
That should have been it for the first half, but with barely seconds to go before the break, Vunivalu gleefully accepted a banana kick from Cronk to become the first player since Manly's David Williams in 2012 to score four tries in a half.
Kenny Bromwich had the audacity to get his name on the scorecard earlier in the half when he crashed onto a short ball from Cronk, while Sea Eagles winger Brad Parker crossed for his first try in the NRL courtesy of a long pass from Trbojevic in an otherwise one-sided first half.
With their side trailing 26-6 at the break, the Brookvale faithful were given something to cheer about in the second stanza when Parker broke four tackles to cross for his second of the evening.
Their joy would be short-lived as Smith capped off a stunning individual display to cross for his first try since Round 3, 2015 with a 30-metre effort from dummy-half.
Jorge Taufua celebrated his 100th game in the NRL with a consolation try before Felise Kaufusi rounded out the scoring for the Storm in the 80th minute.
Melbourne Storm 38 (Suliasi Vunivalu 4, Kenny Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Felise Kaufusi tries; Cameron Smith 4, Tohu Harris 1 goals) defeated Sea Eagles 18 (Brad Parker 2, Jorge Taufua tries; Matt Wright 3 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Half-time: 26-6 Storm. Crowd: 8,241.