The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have fallen to the Melbourne Storm 15-14 in a thriller at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
A Cameron Smith field goal ultimately sunk the in-form defending premiers, who didn’t fully capitalise on a glut of early possession, while some ineffective defence in the middle allowed the Storm to gain easy metres for extended periods.
The result means Storm are, temporarily at least, atop the NRL ladder, while the Cowboys drop from first to third and have had their five-game winning streak snapped.
The effectiveness of a well-placed bomb was on full display early on in the first half as both sides scored from pinpoint high kicks.
The Cowboys got off to a dream start when back-rower Gavin Cooper speared over after Storm winger Marika Koroibete spilled a Johnathan Thurston bomb.
The Storm replied in similar fashion in the 23rd minute when giant centre Tohu Harris was a grateful recipient from a Lachlan Coote mistake off a Cooper Cronk bomb.
That the Storm would score again three minutes later hurt the Cowboys as a conceded penalty led to Kevin Proctor scoring in the 26th minute.
Thurston would kick a first-half penalty for a 12-8 lead to the Storm at the break.
After Melbourne kicked an early penalty to start the second half, the game settled into a possession arm wrestle, with the Cowboys slowly getting the ascendancy thanks to great forward running and a slew of penalties.
That pressure turned into points as Jake Granville ran a diagonal line and delivered the perfect pass for Michael Morgan to slide over.
The game was locked at 14-14 and another grandstand finish between the two sides loomed.
The Cowboys had the chance to seal the game when Antonio Winterstein was one-on-one with Cameron Munster metres out.
But Munster’s strong contact and Harris’s effective clean-up work stopped the re-signed winger centimetres from the line.
Amid a scramble of bodies, Storm skipper Cameron Smith delivered the death blow to North Queensland with a 70th-minute field goal, which would seal the match.
MELBOURNE STORM 15 (Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor tries; Cameron Smith 2 goals, pen. goal, field goal) def NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 14 (Gavin Cooper, Michael Morgan tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals, pen. goal at Suncorp Stadium.