Storm stun Cowboys in Nines quarter-final
The Melbourne Storm have pulled off the biggest upset of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines to eliminate pre-tournament favourites the Cowboys 25-12 in the last of the quarter-finals.
After cruising into the final eight on the back of dominant pool performances, North Queensland simply couldn't match it against Melbourne in a clash that featured some of the tries of the tournament.
Gideon Gela-Mosby all but secured try-of-the-tournament honours after he somehow atoned for what looked like a calamitous error to open the scoring with a freakish bit of individual brilliance.
A cross-field kick by Michael Morgan should have led to a simple try, but the try-scoring wizard lost control of the ball, volleyed it in the same motion and then outsprinted the Storm defence to ground it just inside the dead-ball line.
The underdogs wouldn't go down without a fight, however, and levelled things up through co-captain Young Tonumaipea's diving effort in the corner.
Gela-Mosby might have a mortgage on flukiest try of the year, but there was nothing lucky about Melbourne's team effort on the stroke of half-time that saw the Storm produce several flick passes before Ryley Jacks finished off the movement to give the men in purple a shock half-time lead.
If anyone thought the Storm would slow down in the second stanza they were very much mistaken as Slade Griffin raced through to ground a Brodie Croft grubber to extend the lead to 10 points.
The upset was confirmed four minutes from full-time when a charging Mark Nicholls smashed his way into the bonus zone, but the Cowboys managed one last addition to the highlight reel when Kalyn Ponga danced his way through the defence to score another jaw-dropping try.
The Storm deserved to have the last laugh and they were duly rewarded when speedster Josh Addo-Carr got on the outside to book a spot in the semis against fellow surprise packets the Roosters.
Javid Bowen managed a consolation try for the inaugural Nines premiers but it mattered little as they bowed out earlier than expected.
Storm 25 (Young Tonumaipea, Ryley Jacks, Slade Griffin, Mark Nicholls, Josh Addo-Carr tries; 2 goals) def. Cowboys 12 (Gideon Gela-Mosby, Kalyn Ponga, Javid Bowen tries). Half-time: 8-4.