Storm beat Cowboys despite defensive lapse

With both sides already knowing their post-season fate, the Melbourne Storm welcomed a North Queensland Cowboys side hoping to make sure they avoided the wooden spoon.

The Cowboys opened the scores as Reuben Cotter and Jake Clifford combined to give Esan Marsters the ball on the left-edge.

Marsters kicked through on the last, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow picked up the ball behind Suliasi Vunivalu, and beat the tackle of Nico Hynes to score.

On the very next set, on tackle two, McGuire was sent to the sin-bin for dissent after he played the ball, which suddenly put all the pressure on the Cowboys.

Melbourne were quickly in the lead after further ill-discipline from the Cowboys.

On just the third tackle of the third set in a row, Nelson Asofa-Solomona picked up a flat ball from Cameron Smith and crashed over Cotter for an easy try.

It was same tactic, same result as just a few minutes later Smith popped the ball to Gold Coast bound Tino Faasuamaleaui who charged over from a two metres out.

After some more confident play from the Cowboys, it looked as though they’d get themselves another score.

That was until the ball found Josh Addo-Carr and the winger bounced out of the tackle of Kyle Feldt, and ran back infield straight towards the posts and slid over.

With five minutes to go, the Storm were nearly gifted a fourth try as Valentine Holmes failed to deal with a high bomb from Jahrome Hughes, but luckily, Tabuai-Fidow cleaned the ball up.

Three minutes later, a strong attacking set from Melbourne resulted in Cameron Smith running from dummy-half and using Faasuamaleaui as a dummy-runner before passing the ball out the back to Cameron Munster who walked over untouched for the fourth try.

In the finals seconds, Hughes made a break on the right side and looked for Cameron Smith in support.

The Hooker knew he wouldn’t make it all the way so passed inside to Hynes but the full-back was wrapped up on the hooter.

HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 24-4 North Queensland Cowboys

Four minutes into the second-half as Munster picked the ball up at dummy-half before jumping over and failing tackle and found the space to score.

Just before the hour mark, Vunivalu kicked back infield after being trapped on the right edge.

Smith picked up the loose ball and dotted down but the play was brought back after Hughes was offside from the kick and interfered with the play.

In the very next set, North Queensland pulled a try back after a left-hand shift.

Marsters found space after stepping through the line between Brenko Lee and Vunivalu before outpacing Hynes to grab the try.

The Cowboys quickly grabbed their third try as Tabuai-Fidow was the recipient of another sweeping play out the left, and he got around Vunivalu before diving over.

However, the winger just about failed to ground the ball while in the air, but Hughes was called offside in the line and the Cowboys kept the ball.

At the end of the resulting set, a crossfield kick from Scott Drinkwater was inch-perfect for Kyle Feldt to out jump Addo-Carr and dot down on the right-wing.

The Cowboys small spell of dominance was soon ended as Melbourne steadied the ship.

A set restart on tackle four allowed the Storm to attack a tiring North Queensland defence.

Munster and Smith combined to shift the ball the Jesse Bromwich, who, instead of running the ball, dragged in two defenders and passed out the ball for Hughes for a try.

The Cowboys refused to go quietly though as Drinkwater and Jake Clifford did enough work to create space for Holmes to dummy past Hynes, and busted through the tackle of Munster to score on the right edge.

In the final two minutes, Mitchell Dunn looked to break through the Storm defence but poor hands at the crucial point meant the ball hit the deck and Hynes kicked the ball over the touchline to run down the clock.

FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 36-20 North Queensland Cowboys


Melbourne Storm

Hynes, Vunivalu, Lee, Olam, Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, J. Bromwich, Smith, Asofa-Solomona, Kaufusi, K. Bromwich, Faasuamaleaui

Interchanges: Jacks, Schonig, Eisenhuth, Kamikamica

Tries: Asofa-Solomona, Faasuamaleaui, Addo-Carr, Munster (2), Hughes

Goals: Smith (6/6)

North Queensland Cowboys

Holmes, Feldt, O’Neill, Marsters, Tabuai-Fidow, Drinkwater, Clifford, Molo, Cotter, McLean, Dunn, Gilbert, McGuire

Interchanges: Cooper, Asi, Asiata, Jensen

Tries: Tabuai-Fidow, Marsters, Feldt, Holmes

Goals: Holmes (2/4)

Sin-Bins: McGuire

Referee: G. Atkins

Touch Judges: P. Gough, Z. Przeklasa-Adamski

Video Referee: H. Perenara

Image Source: @NRL (twitter)

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