2016 Nines over for Cowboys
Melbourne are the second team through to the semi-finals after they downed a lacklustre Cowboys outfit 14-6.
North Queensland launched into the razzle-dazzle from the opening whistle with the aid of the new free-play rule but the Storm's defence was back in order after their whipping at the hands of the Roosters, turning away several Cowboys charges at the start of proceedings.
A slight lack of execution and sturdy defence from both sides kept the match scoreless for over eight minutes but a few repeat sets finally told on North Queensland when Richie Kennar cracked the deadlock for a 6-0 half-time advantage.
A brilliant Cam Munster intercept and a floating pass to a supporting Curtis Scott stretched the lead early in the second half to 10-0 but a dropped ball in his own end from Nelson Asofa-Solomona set the stage for a Rory Kostjasyn show-and-go solo try to get the Cowboys started.
Munster's knee twisted awkwardly in a tackle with two minutes remaining causing him to leave the field in some discomfort. The frustrated Cowboys weren't able to get out of their own end and a forward pass late in the game ended their chances and handed the Storm a final scoring chance which they took via a Ben Hampton solo try.
Melbourne Storm 14 (Kennar, Scott, Hampton tries) def. North Queensland Toyota Cowboys 6 (Kostjasyn try).
First published on NRL.com