Barely recognisable Storm team beat Sea Eagles
A late Cameron Smith penalty goal delivered a depleted Melbourne Storm a 14-13 victory over arch rivals the Sea Eagles at Lottoland.
The visitors trailed 13-12 with eight minutes remaining before an accidental offside involving Joel Thompson enabled Smith a shot at two points from close range.
The late call proved a cruel blow for the hosts, who were kept scoreless and starved of territory in the second half after dominating the game early to race to a 12-0 lead.
Manly received a blow pre-game with Dylan Walker failing to overcome a knee injury, cancelling out any chance of a reunion battle between he and Storm centre Curtis Scott following a fiery clash back in Round 11.
The Sea Eagles were celebrating their 10-year anniversary since the famous 40-0 grand final in 2008 and bolted out of the blocks with two tries through back-rower Shaun Lane.
The defending premiers rested Origin stars Billy Slater, Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi and Will Chambers for the encounter, and the away side then lost Christian Welch in the 10th minute to concussion.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Storm
Round 18 -
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Manly continued to dominate possession and territory but found themselves ahead by just seven at halftime.
Manase Fainu weaved his way past some clumsy Storm defence to send Lane over the line on the right edge, before Cherry-Evans isolated the back-rower with Ryley Jacks four minutes later for a quick double.
The visitors finally got on the board through Suliasi Vunivalu despite replays indicating a Scott pass may have been forward in the lead up.
Starting props Marty Taupau (155 metres) and Addin Fonua-Blake (107 metres) did everything possible to allow the Sea Eagles further chances to attack in their first stints, but the side had to settle for a field goal and a 13-6 advantage at the break.
Melbourne struck back in typical fashion after a freakish play from Brandon Smith to keep the ball in-goal allowed the Storm to narrow the lead after the break through Brodie Croft.
The halfback sliced through a poor defensive read from Joel Thompson and Tom Trbojevic in the line to dart over.
The Storm had their chances to take the lead trailing by a point but couldn't capitalise – Scott losing the ball over the line, before going close once more on the right edge and being bundled into touch.
A forward pass flat-footed from Ryan Hoffman frustrated the visitors but Smith's late penalty goal and a controlled last 10 minutes secured the visitors two competition points.
News and notes: Storm forward Christian Welch left the field for a HIA and did not return ... Sea Eagles centre Brian Kelly was placed on report for a high tackle on Suliasi Vunivalu ... It was Melbourne's fifth win at the venue from their last seven attempts. Crowd: 9,277.