Melbourne Storm breeze past Cowboys with convincing win

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The Melbourne Storm have posted a convincing 36-20 win over North Queensland at Sunshine Coast Stadium to continue their NRL finals tune-up.

The Storm kept a grip on second place on the ladder — sitting four points clear of the Sydney Roosters — and extended their record against the Cowboys to 11 straight wins, while they also maintained their unbeaten record at their adopted home ground.

They remain three points behind the ladder-leading Panthers with two rounds remaining until the finals.

They set up the victory with a big first half, racing to a 24-4 lead at the break.

But it was North Queensland who got off to the better start when young winger Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow ran onto a grubber by Esan Marsters, which caused some confusion in the Storm defence.

The 4-0 lead soon evaporated, however, when Cowboys firebrand Josh McGuire was sent to the sin-bin in the seventh minute for “verbal dissent”, having given referee Grant Atkins a foul-mouthed spray after he was tackled.

While McGuire was off the field, both Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tino Faasuamaleaui crashed through the middle for converted tries, and the Storm established a 12-4 lead.

Winger Josh Addo-Carr showed a clean pair of heels and five-eighth Cameron Munster crossed either side of half-time to make it 26 points and it was effectively game-over after 45 minutes.

To the Cowboys’ credit, they rallied in the second half to at least make a fist of the contest.

Marsters scooted through a big hole and outpaced Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu for a 40-metre try, while ex-Melbourne playmaker Scott Drinkwater put up a pinpoint kick for Kyle Feldt to outleap Addo-Carr.

But the Storm then ended any hope of an unlikely upset when Jahrome Hughes added their sixth try of the match in the 67th minute

ABC/AAP

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