Melbourne Storm’s Jersey Flegg side has produced an inspired performance to defeat the Cronulla Sharks 14-12 at PointsBet Stadium on Thursday night.
The first play of the game was a sign of things to come for Storm, immediately muscling up off the kick off and driving the Sharks back to set the tone early defensively.
Storm also looked a polished outfit with ball in hand from the get-go, building pressure with consecutive repeat sets thanks to two perfectly weighted grubbers into the in-goal area from halfback Keagan Russell-Smith.
Storm then made Sharks pay for an error coming out of trouble, young five-eighth Stanley Huen fooling the Sharks defence with an elaborate dummy before showing some great strength to shrug off a would-be Sharks defender to slam the ball down in the 13th minute.
Storm then made it back-to-back tries, this time going coast to coast thanks to some explosive work from Gabriel Satrick at dummy half.
Satrick spotted the markers not square and took full advantage, quickly turning on the afterburners and burning straight through the Sharks defence before linking up with Oscar Amosa who set sail down field.
With Sharks defence rushing back in defence, Amosa found Russell-Smith who waited just long enough to draw in the tackle from Sharks winger Chaz Jarvis before offloading back to Amosa who muscled his way into the in-goal area in the 22nd minute.
A penalty goal 10 minutes later extended Storm’s lead out to 12-points before Sharks would eventually find their first points of the contest right before the break when Blake Hosking crossed in the 34th minute.
Storm then made it an eight-point game after Sharks were penalised for dangerous contact on Russell-Smith in the process of kicking in the 50th minute.
Sharks set up a grandstand finish after Benjamin Lavender won the race to a deflected grubber to make it 14-12 in the 60th minute.
With the game in the balance, it was the outside backs who rolled their sleeves up for Storm, with wingers Matthew Hill and Oscar Amosa coming up with some big carries to get their side out of trouble.
Despite a number of troops battling injuries throughout the contest, Storm showed plenty of defensive grit, scrambling on their own line when it mattered most, denying some late attacking raids from the Sharks.
Storm ultimately held on for one of their most impressive 70-minute performances all season, now given an opportunity to rest and recover as they head into the competition-wide bye next weekend.