Storm v Cowboys: Five key points
Melbourne outlasted North Queensland in a 16-10 thriller on Saturday night, and the Cowboys will now meet an old foe in next Friday's semi-final.
Storm seal preliminary final berth
It took the Storm the full 80 minutes, but Melbourne are now just one win away from another grand final berth.
With a week off and a spot in the preliminary final up for grabs, the Storm started and finished the game the stronger side and held off a gallant Cowboys outfit to claim the six-point win.
Melbourne will now host the winner of the Raiders v Panthers/Bulldogs match in two weeks' time and will have some added motivation, as Cooper Cronk prepares to line up in his 300th NRL game.
2015 grand final rematch on the cards
After their past three matches have resulted in two golden point finishes and three one-point victories, the North Queensland and Brisbane rivalry resumes next Friday night.
The two sides met in last season's historic grand final which saw the Cowboys win in the first ever golden point decider, and this season's results haven’t been any different.
Both teams enjoyed a one-point win in the 2016 regular season, so expect next weekend's semi-final to go down to the wire once again.
Cowboys hurt themselves with errors
In a game that wasn’t decided by much, the Cowboys let themselves down on Saturday night after making numerous errors in their own half.
Twice inside the opening 20 minutes North Queensland handed possession back to the home side through simple mistakes, although their second half errors cost them the most.
Kyle Feldt knocked the ball on in the air which led to Jesse Bromwich's try, and it was Feldt once again who gifted the Storm points, as a penalty against the winger saw Cameron Smith extend the lead to six points with just five minutes remaining and ultimately seal the game.
Defence the theme of the night
When the top two defensive sides in the competition meet points will always be hard to come by, and the first half especially was a testament to the fortitude of both sides.
After a Cameron Smith 40/20 inside three minutes, the Storm enjoyed promising field position for the opining 20 minutes, but were time and time again held out by the visitors, and when Jake Granville's try-saving tackle on Jordan McLean forced the forward to spill the ball the Cowboys looked to have swung the momentum in their favour.
Not to be outdone, Melbourne repelled four consecutive goal-line dropouts and kept the Cowboys at bay for the best part of 15 minutes.
A Smith penalty goal finally broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, although fans were treated to a defensive masterclass prior to that moment.
Record AAMI Park crowd
Never in Melbourne had the Storm played in front of three consecutive crowds of 20,000-plus, but Saturday night's game at AAMI Park made history.
After games against the Broncos and Sharks in Rounds 25 and 26 saw the Storm amass two large crowd figures, the Melbourne faithful were out in force once again as 21,233 packed into AAMI Park to will their side onto victory.