Storm score strong win over Broncos
The Melbourne Storm put the rest of the competition on notice that their title defence is back on track after beating a brave Brisbane Broncos 34-20 in a performance set to have implications for the looming State of Origin series.
Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster is now a certainty for the number six jersey for Queensland after a masterclass performance.
The left edge attacking duo of NSW selection candidates Curtis Scott and Josh Addo-Carr have also given Blues coach Brad Fittler food for thought after their attacking combination created plenty of havoc.
You can't coach speed and Addo-Carr has it to burn. His two tries were classics, one on the back end of a Munster kick and another after an extraordinary 30m pass from fellow winger Suliasi Vunivalu.
Fullback Billy Slater was in everything in a stunning two-try performance that would have had Queensland coach Kevin Walters licking his lips.
The Broncos refused to lay down in what was a cracker of a match played at Origin pace.
Brisbane's night took a sour turn in the 51st minute when hooker Andrew McCullough left the field after sustaining a suspected elbow ligament injury in a tackle.
Trailing 18-4 at the time, the Storm looked set to race away with the game but prop Tevita Pangai jnr, a centre in his younger years, stepped up with two superb passes that resulted in tries to Jamayne Isaako and Alex Glenn.
The injection of Kodi Nikorima into the game lifted the Broncos, as did a crunching tackle by Matt Lodge that changed the momentum.
When Anthony Milford kicked for himself to regather and narrow Melbourne's lead to 24-20 the Broncos dreamed of a famous victory.
Match: Broncos vs Storm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
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But Milford inexplicably allowed a Will Chambers kick to roll towards the dead ball line and Vunivalu pounced to make the Broncos pay.
Chambers iced the cake with a try of his own to cap a superb match for the Maroons and Australian centre.
The win continued the Storm's dominance over the Broncos on their home turf in what was their ninth consecutive win over their fierce rivals at Suncorp Stadium.
The Storm have injury concerns of their own with Jesse Bromwich suffering a medial injury to his knee.
There was plenty of feeling in the match with Pangai giving Slater a few don't-argues before half-time.
Lodge was put on report for a dangerous tackle in the 75th minute to add to Brisbane's woes but coach Wayne Bennett would not have been disappointed in his side's overall performance.
There was some controversy over a Slater try in the first half when he drop-kicked the ball for himself and scored a try which the NRL has since deemed to be a correct call by on-field referee Ashley Klein and the Bunker.
Individual defensive lapses proved costly but the Broncos showed plenty of grit and enterprise.
The Storm rediscovered the razzle-dazzle aspect of their attacking play with the speed and skill of their outside backs showcasing the weaponry that took the side to the premiership in 2017.