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 scored six tries against the Cowboys, including a double to Cameron Munster
- The victory was set up in the first half, with the Storm ahead 24-4 at the break
- The Storm are in second place on the ladder, trailing Penrith by three points
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