A Brodie Croft field goal helped the league-leading Melbourne Storm keep their spot atop the ladder with a heart-stopping 23-22 golden point victory in the 84th minute over the North Queensland Cowboys.
Leading 22-14 after the scoring three consecutive tries midway through the second half, the Storm were forced into a thrilling overtime affair as the Cowboys miraculously forced the game into extra time.
The visitors scored a converted try within the final three minutes and then landed a penalty goal from 35 metres out after the fulltime siren.
Kyle Feldt had nerves of steel to send the game into golden point with his goal after the siren from a difficult position on the field.
North Queensland had the first attempt but Lachlan Coote’s missed drop goal gave Melbourne seven tackles to travel up field and put themselves within field-goal range.
After the defence rushed Brodie Croft to prevent his field-goal attempt, he produced a superb kick to force a repeat set.
Croft then sealed the landmark win without their side’s Origin stars in the 84th minute with a perfectly-executed field goal from 35 metres out.
It was a night where a number promising emerging young talents made the most of their opportunity and stood up to deliver a resonating win for the Melbourne club.
Despite several Origin representatives unavailable, there was plenty of excitement and scintillating play by both sides.
A three-peat of tries for Melbourne set up an eight-point lead for the Storm with 20 minutes left to play.
Hooker Brandon Smith crashed over from dummy half to cut the deficit to two points before match hero Croft sliced through the Cowboys defensive line to find Antonio Kaufusi in support, who gifted Curtis Scott his second try of the night.
Fittingly, Kaufusi then enjoyed his own try, crossing the try line from five metres out.
But Croft was the hero, sealing the win with a perfect field goal that sailed over the black dot.
Earlier, the Cowboys struck first, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead after 25 minutes. In between kicking two penalty goals, hooker Jake Granville exploded out of dummy half, exposing a gap in the defence, to put Kyle Laybutt into space before passing onto Justin O’Neill who found Kyle Feldt on his right.
The Storm scored their first points of the game through a well-crafted play down the right side and cut North Queensland’s lead 10-6.
Young dynamic halves duo Cameron Munster and Croft linked up to put Scott through a gaping hole before crashing over the line for the first of his two tires with nine minutes left in the half.
The Cowboys seemed in full control when they extended their halftime lead as Granville set up another try, stabbing a short grubber in goal for Lachlan Coote to pounce on to give them a 14-6 lead in the 46th minute.
However, Melbourne rallied to escape from a thrilling encounter between the two sides who gave their all.
Melbourne Storm 23 (Curtis Scott 2, Felise Kaufusi, Brandon Smith tries; Cameron Munster 3 goals; Brodie Croft field goal) def. North Queensland Cowboys 22 (Kyle Feldt, Kane Linnett, Lachlan Coote tries; Kyle Feldt 5 goals.
NRL.com unofficial votes: 3 points: Brodie Croft. 2 points: Jason Taumalolo. 1 point: Cameron Munster.