In their most complete performance of the season, the Melbourne Storm scored an impressive 20-14 victory over the Warriors in a high-quality Anzac Day match at AAMI Park.
Both sides were simply brilliant providing plenty of exciting passages of play as the visitors held a hard-fought 14-12 lead with 30 minutes to play.
But on the back of a piece of mastery from Cooper Cronk to grubber kick for an unmarked Suliasi Vunivalu on the halfway line to put the Storm on the Warriors line, captain Cameron Smith threw the ball to the opposite side of the field to find left winger Josh Addo-Carr who tip-toed down the sideline to score in the corner.
The try gave the home side a nail-biting 16-14 lead in the final 15 minutes before Smith set up the match-sealing try for Felise Kaufusi close to the line with two minutes remaining.
The Warriors scrambled for the miracle try on the final play but the Storm managed to snuff out the play to claim the victory.
After last week’s disappointing 20-8 loss to the Raiders in Canberra, the visitors stamped their intentions of a sharp display early with Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson continuing to show promising signs of their blossoming partnership.
Foran forced an early goal-line dropout and combined with Johnson to spread the ball to the right for Blake Ayshford to draw his opposite number before finding an unmarked David Fusitu’a to score and take a confidence boosting 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Completing 19 of their 22 sets, the Warriors were focused in a strong first-half effort, delivering several bone-rattling tackles.
However, racking up a 7-3 penalty count, the Warriors couldn’t repel the Storm’s mounting pressure as a rampaging Nelson Asofa-Solomona took advantage from 10 metres out to barrage his way under the crossbar and level the scores at 6-all after 30 minutes.
The Warriors then received a penalty from 35 metres out, opting to add the two points and take a handy 8-6 lead with three minutes left in the half before Melbourne slotted the last-play penalty extras.
The Warriors quickly reclaimed the lead 12-8 three minutes into the second half with Fusitu’a bagging his second try at the end of a fantastic set piece that saw Foran link with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who found his outside winger in space.
Both sides were engaged in a see-sawing contest and the Storm answered back immediately to level the scores again as Will Chambers got on the outside of Bodene Thompson - who was defending out in the centres - 30 metres out from his own line before finding Cronk to score under the posts.
With little separating the two sides, the Warriors didn’t hesitate to kick another penalty goal from right in front and take a 14-12 lead with 30 minutes left to play.
However, in front of a spirited crowd of 22,153, Melbourne executed down the stretch to climb to the top of the table as outright competition leaders.
While Billy Slater, Smith and Cronk were superb as they continue to rediscover their historic partnership form, Nelson Asofa-Solomona was outstanding off the bench, deservedly awarded the Spirit of Anzac Medal.
Storm 20 (Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Cooper Cronk, Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi tries; Cam Smith 2 goals) def. Warriors 14 (Fusitua 2 tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals).