Playing at Sunshine Coast Stadium, their home away from home, the Melbourne Storm wrapped up second spot with a dominant win over the Wests Tigers.
The win sees Melbourne finish in the top two for the fifth consecutive season.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy was pleased to finish where they have and praised Penrith at the same time.
“One and two get the first home game and get a second chance,” Bellamy siad.
We don’t get the shield like Penrith have and what they have done to win the [JJ Giltinan] Shield with 14 games in a row is remarkable.”
The Storm have also been seen as the measuring stick for consistency and Bellamy is proud of their form.
“It is a really good result for us and I am really proud of the club the last five years,” Bellamy continued.
“This year has gone to another level, living away from home and a lot of things people wouldn’t know about that have been quite challenging and difficult.
The scoring started early for the Storm with Jahrome Hughes and Suliasi Vunivalu combining.
Hughes’ low, long-range kick found Vunivalu racing through and he scored with ease.
The second try went through the hands but was executed just as perfectly.
Nicho Hynes and Kenny Bromwich combined on the edge before Josh Addo-Carr nabbed the goods at the end.
The Tigers lost two men soon after when both Sam McIntyre and Matthew Eisenhuth were the casualties of a barnstorming Tino Fa’asuamaleaui run.
Not to be outdone in attack, though, the Tigers were the next ones to score.
Benji Marshall & Josh Reynolds combined to find winger Asu Kepaoa in the corner who finished acrobatically.
Kenny Bromwich would then show off his class with the ball, to find Hynes who bamboozled the Tigers defence to score.
The heart of the Tigers could not be understated, however, and Josh Aloiai powered over from close range.
Some resolute Storm defence forced Joey Leilua over the sidelines and they capitalised in attack soon after.
Vunivalu and Hughes combined again, this time through the air, with the Fijian soaring high to nab the ball and score.
Hughes then scored a try of his own when he darted through a yawning gap in the Tigers defence.
Addo-Carr would grab his second soon after, when he ran 60 m, weaving in and out of defenders to score.
The half would end with Luke Garner sent to the sin bin for a professional foul and the Storm led 32-10 at the break.
The Storm would not be strangers to casualty, however; Bromwich went off with a HIA and Vunivalu with hamstring tightness.
Harry Grant, Marshall and Reynolds would combine yet again for Kepaoa’s second try.
The Tigers would get a sniff with a quick-fire double to start the second half when Adam Doueihi sliced over.
Though the compounding factor on top of the loss was an ACL injury suffered by in-form forward Josh Aloiai.
The Storm found their mojo soon after, as the ball was spread from one side to the other with Justin Olam finishing the play off.
Cameron Smith then scored his 47th NRL try to pass Craig Bellamy that saw the two engage in some light-hearted banter.
It was Luciano Leilua’s interference in the play the ball that led to Smith’s try.
He would grubber ahead, beating Doueihi to the punch to score.
Smith would then turn provider as he grubbered for Fa’asuamaleaui to score, with the score finishing up 50-22 to the Storm.
Proud of how his side bounced back, Tigers coach Michael Maguire wants to farewell Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall on the right note next week.
“It is a really important week for Chris Lawrence, Benji and a number of boys that will leave us,” Maguire said.
“It is a really important game for us to make sure we send everyone that is leaving off in the right manner.
“If we go out and put pressure on Parramatta we know what we are capable of doing, so we have got to go out and do that.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Jahrome Hughes (MEL)
2. Nicho Hynes (MEL)
- Cameron Smith (MEL)