The Melbourne Storm put on a devastating first half display en route to a 29-20 win against the Wests Tigers but not before they were given quite a scare at AAMI Park.
Four tries in 15 minutes saw the Storm take a 26-0 lead into the main break, as the home side were ruthless in attack. It was a tale of two halves at AAMI Park, however, as 22 unanswered points to Wests Tigers in the second half kept the game alive until theend.
Storm halfback Cooper Cronk put the game to bed with five minutes remaining with a field goal, his second in as many matches against the Wests Tigers this season.
Both sides used the opening 10 minutes of the game to find their feet, until Marika Koroibete broke through a tackle inside his own 20 to set up the opening try.
A few tackles later Tohu Harris found Felise Kaufusi in space down the left and the second rower was able to break the early deadlock.
Luke Brooks put the ball out on the full from the resulting kickoff, and the Storm were able to extend their lead just minutes later through a Cameron Smith penalty goal.
After scoring just his second try of the season, Kaufusi was over for his second in just eight minutes after a perfectly timed ball from Cameron Smith gave Kaufusi enough space to bustle his way over. Tohu Harris kept the scoreboard ticking over during the Storm's next attack as a pinpoint pass from Cronk gave Harris a clear run to the try line.
The home side weren't done there, and their final try of the first half was one that could not be prevented by any defender. An errant pass from Mitchell Moses hit the deck and Koroibete pounced on the loose ball and was away before anyone could catch him.
Koroibete planted the ball under the posts to extend the score to 26-0 after the conversion. Koroibete's try ended a spectacular half for him, as the winger ran for 214 metres.
Wests Tigers were their worst enemies at times during the opening 40, as 18 missed tackles to three didn't help their cause, but soon began to claw into the Storm's lead.
After a scoreless first half, Wests Tigers only needed three second half minutes to break their duck, as James Tedesco found a rare gap in the Storm's defence on the right wing to give the visitors a sniff. Jason Taylor's side were in again just seven minutes later through Luke Brooks, as the halfback threw a classy dummy to open up some space for himself.
Moses was unable to convert, but Wests Tigers were building some second half momentum, and it was about to continue. A brilliant flick pass from Brooks found Tim Simona down the left and Wests Tigers added their third try of the half, closing the game to within 10 points with 20 minutes left as the AAMI Park crowd began to come to life.
Wests Tigers continued their second half dominance over the Storm and were in again, as an extra number down the right hand side saw David Nofoaluma bring his side to within one converted try. The visitors were just metres away from levelling the contest in the 68th minute, but a crunching tackle from Suliasi Vunivalu kept James Tedesco at bay.
Cronk's field goal was the Storm's first point of the second half, and Smith added the icing on the cake minutes later to give the home side their 12th win of the season.
Melbourne Storm 29 (Kaufusi 2, Harris, Koroibete tries; Smith 6 goals, Cronk field goal) def Wests Tigers 20 (Tedesco, Brooks, Simona, Nofoaluma tries; Moses 2 goals)