Melbourne topple NRL ladder leaders Brisbane
Melbourne have edged a brave Brisbane in a drama-charged NRL clash to extend their long domination over the ladder leaders.
Thursday night's match at Melbourne's AAMI Park had Broncos skipper Adam Reynolds stretchered off in a neck brace, a penalty try, three Brisbane players sin-binned and two players put on report in a chaotic marathon match.
But the home side did enough in the end to book a 24-16 victory and stretch their winning streak against Brisbane to 13, with the visitors still winless at the Storm's home ground since 2016.
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters felt the continuous stoppages by referee Todd Smith were a blight on the game.
"I'm pretty frustrated - we came here to play football and I don't feel that we got a game of football," he said.
"I'll take the loss but this is two good teams going at it and it didn't become a game of football.
"We had three guys sin-binned, it's hard to win when that happens and were they fair sin-binning? I won't make any comment because my contract isn't big enough to pay the fine."
The teams were locked at 10-10 at halftime with Brisbane having lost veteran halfback Reynolds after he hit his head on the ground diving in an unsuccessful attempt to ground a loose ball for a try.
He was taken from the field on a medi-cab but later cleared of a serious neck injury although he's set to miss next week's heavyweight clash with Penrith.
In the same play the NRL bunker awarded a penalty try to the Broncos, ruling that Storm hooker Harry Grant had pushed Herbie Farnworth in the back as he also raced for the ball.
Pat Carrigan is also in danger of being rubbed out for the Panthers after the star prop was sin-binned for a hip-drop tackle.
Carrigan was last season banned for four games for the same offence but both Walters and Storm coach Craig Bellamy felt he was hard done by.
The Broncos were forced to play the final three minutes of the half down a man when Farnworth was sent to the bin for a professional foul for impeding his opposite Reimis Smith.
Smith earlier found trouble, put on report for a dangerous tackle.
The home side took immediate advantage and sent the ball wide to Will Warbrick, with five-eighth Ezra Mam unable to stop the rampaging winger.
It looked like Melbourne had broken the halftime deadlock after Walsh spilt a Cameron Munster bomb, with Warbrick again touching down. However it was ruled that Xavier Coates, who had pressured the fullback, was offside at the kick.
Six minutes later Mam made up for his earlier lapse when he dislodged the ball from second-rower Eliesa Katoa as he dived across the line, with coach Storm Craig Bellamy unable to hide his disgust.
The Broncos were again forced to toil a man down with Carrigan's untimely exit and again they paid the price.
Coates spilt a Jahrome Hughes bomb but the ball went backwards with OIam pouncing for a 16-10 scoreline before a Nick Meaney penalty gave the team more breathing space.
Warbrick then got his second try in the 74th minute with Hughes snatching up a Walsh fumble to extend the margin to 14 points.
"So many 50:50 things happened," said Bellamy.
"It seemed to go for a hell of a long time, like an AFL game ... but we're happy with the result and we've got a couple of days off for the boys to put their feet up."