Melbourne Storm have collected an NRL record with 19-successive wins, but not before they were given an almighty test by the Gold Coast Titans.
The Storm took the win 34 points to 20, but the Titans showed that their best football can challenge the top teams, leading at the half-time break.
Two minutes into the game and the Titans were across for the first points.
After receiving the kick-off, a Melbourne error saw the Titans move into Storm territory and it was there that the right side produced a stunning start.
Receiving the ball from the scrum, Patrick Herbert beat his man and was able to create space on the outside for Greg Marzhew who dragged two Melbourne defenders across the line with him.
Titans make Storm pay for mistake early
Co-captain Jamal Fogarty, returning after missing the last few weeks with a finger injury, couldn’t convert from the sideline.
His fellow co-captain Kevin Proctor left the field with a shoulder injury after eight minutes, with Beau Fermor moving onto the left edge.
The Storm had a few early chances, but the Titans weathered the challenge and great defence from Fogarty and David Fifita forced a Melbourne error.
The Titans halfback sent a huge bomb spiralling skywards which fell about 15 metres out from the Melbourne line. Leaping to make a contest, Herbert was about to climb high and knock the ball back to Jayden Campbell with the fullback scooting through to score under the posts.
Herbert taps it back and Campbell collects it at speed
The Titans showed their intent from the following kick-off, with Jarrod Wallace throwing a cut-out pass that hit Corey Thompson right on the touch line and the Gold Coast side were able to march back into Storm territory.
The Titans lead 10-nil after the first 20 minutes, with Marzhew, Herbert and Fa’asuamaleaui having strong openings.
Melbourne hit back in the 24th minute, with Marion Seve crossing for their first points. Floating across field, Ryan Papenhuyzen turned Josh Addo-Carr back on the inside and the pace of the two Storm backs created space for Seve.
Harry Grant had the Storm’s second, the hooker scooting from half close to the line and barging his way across.
The Titans had another piece of Campbell magic to finish the half, with Jayden jumping over Cameron Munster to collect a bomb close to the line before finishing for his second try.
Gold Coast led 16 points to 12 at the break in what was the first ever Thursday night home game at Cbus Super Stadium.
Munster gave the visitors the lead after the break, with the Melbourne five-eighth finishing a short side play by the Storm by getting low to the ground and sliding his way across the line.
Papenhuyzen’s conversion bounced off the crossbar and went through, giving them the lead.
The Titans had a chance to hit back, with a nice play down the right side which saw Fogarty float a pass to Marzhew, however the winger couldn’t control as he attempted an athletic put-down with the defence swarming.
The Titans were tested over the next 10 minutes, but showed resolve in defence to stay right in the match.
In the final 20, the ladder leaders put their foot down.
First, it was a Titans turnover close to the line that gave Melbourne their first chance and they took it with open arms.
Josh Addo-Carr first scored a try and then set one up.
First, he finished an overlap play on the left in the corner.
Then, with a play similar to Seve’s first half try, he cut back inside at pace and found Nicho Hynes who was able to score.
Luck fell the way of the leaders with 13 minutes to go. Josh Addo-Carr attemped a cross field bomb on the last and kicked the ball backwards. Off the bounce, Papenhuyzen kicked again and was able to force a drop out when Herbert couldn’t make it back into the field of play.
Addo-Carr had another in the 70th minute and the converted try took the score out to 34 points to 16.
The Titans reduced the margin, with Tyrone Peachey crossing late in the game.
Next for the Gold Coast side is a trip to the Sunshine Coast to take on the Newcastle Knights, before a return to Cbus Super Stadium in round 25 to take on the New Zealand Warriors.