Melbourne have responded from their nightmare at Suncorp to down the Sydney Roosters 18-13 with a stunning last-gasp try from Will Warbrick and progress to an NRL preliminary final.
Seven days after being embarrassed 26-0 by Brisbane, the Storm hit back in a tight and tense semi-final at AAMI Park on Friday as fullback Nick Meaney starred.
In another chapter to the storied Storm-Roosters rivalry, Melbourne broke a three-game losing streak in finals games dating back to the 2021 preliminary final.
“Really proud of how we stuck in there, it wasn’t pretty, without a doubt, but we needed to come back with a display like that after last week,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
“Really impressed with how the club fought back after all being disappointed last week so we live to fight another day.”
Bellamy’s men grabbed a 10-0 lead after 26 minutes but the Roosters powered back to hit the front with eight minutes remaining.
Staring down the barrel of a straight-sets exit, Storm star Cameron Munster put a perfect kick to Warbrick in the opposite corner as the athletic winger flew high and scored the try with 90 seconds left to send the crowd of 19,534 into delirium.
The Storm will now renew their rivalry with Penrith, who are gunning for a third-straight premiership, in the first preliminary final at Accor Stadium next Friday night.
After finishing as minor premiers in 2021, Melbourne crashed out with a heartbreaking preliminary final defeat to the Panthers.
The Storm were forced to defend valiantly during the second half on Friday as the Roosters willed themselves back in the contest like they did in their elimination final thriller over Cronulla last week.
“We’re heartbroken, I guess that’s how we’re feeling. I feel like we fought really hard to continue on,” Robinson said.
“It’s devastating to finish because we felt like we found our team the longer this season, we’ve been fighting for a couple of years.”
Both teams were missing several key players, with the Storm forced to find replacements for injured trio Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Xavier Coates.
Filling in for injured star Hughes, back-up halfback Tyran Wishart made a hot start and was not overawed by the occasion as he opened the scoring with the first try.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was left fuming after a blatant knock-on from Storm hooker Harry Grant was not penalised.
Even Bellamy conceded post-match the Storm had avoided a burst on their line because Grant’s error was not picked up by the referee.
From the next play, Melbourne carried the ball down the other end to score again, through centre Marion Seve.
Wishart was again influential, combining with Grant to offload to Seve.
After calling his former Melbourne teammates’ performance against the Broncos “putrid”, hooker Brandon Smith got the Roosters on the board just before halftime, much to the displeasure of the Storm fans who booed their former cult hero.
Roosters forward Lindsay Collins crossed in the 66th minute to level the scores before Sam Walker’s field goal in the 72nd minute broke the 12-12 deadlock, putting the Roosters in front for the first time in the match.
But Munster and Warbrick would have the last laugh to combine for a famous Storm win.