Grant drives Storm to huge win, sending Broncos’ finals hopes crashing in the process

Melbourne have underlined their late season surge with a mammoth 60-12 win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, endangering the Broncos’ place in the finals in the process.

The Storm built on the impressive defensive performance that kept Penrith at bay, but added some scintillating attack. Harry Grant, in particular, scored one and set up two in a man of the match performance, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona – one brain fade aside – was devastating both in the middle and on an edge.

This was the latest instalment in one of the most one-sided of NRL rivalries: the Storm have now won 12 straight over the Broncos, 11 straight against them at Suncorp and their last five clashes have seen a collective score of 258 to 62 in Melbourne’s favour.

It didn’t all go Melbourne’s way. They lost Xavier Coates to a concussion, then his replacement, Tyran Wishart, departed with a syndesmosis injury.

For the Broncos, this was a rude awakening to the levels that they will face in the finals. If they make it, that is: Brisbane host Parramatta next week, who are likely to be in top four contention, and then have a potentially tricky trip to face St George Illawarra on the final weekend.

Brisbane need another win to be sure of post-season football with the Raiders, currently in ninth, able to overtake them if they win out and swing around a relatively close points differential that took a battering tonight.

The logistics of the finals are one thing, but getting there would be near-pointless if they turn up and played like this. It wasn’t even close, with the Storm dominating the ball, rolling downfield with ease and getting over the stripe far too easily.

Even more worrying might be how hard life looked for the Broncos with ball in hand. They all-but matched Melbourne in terms of good ball plays, but left with far fewer points.

The Storm started with intent. Asofa-Solomona lined up Ezra Mam – as had been threatened all week – and flicked the ball out the back door for Young Tonumaipea.

Brisbane then butchered a try through Kotoni Staggs, but were gifted one by some horrendous Storm play.

Asofa-Solomona tried another no-look back flick in the middle of the field, sending the ball well behind the line, and his mistake was compounded by Xavier Coates’ attempt to keep the ball in play, which went straight to Kurt Capewell for an easy score.

The Storm didn’t let their mistake bother them. Grant slipped Tui Kamikamica in on a crash play to get back in front, before Justin Olam smuggled a late offload that David Nofoaluma touched down.

The Broncos were behind, but managed to change the tempo. Kobe Hetherington went straight down the middle to get them into position, from which Mam went very close.

On the other side, Selwyn Cobbo might have scored, but also failed to make a good opportunity count.

If you miss against Melbourne, they invariably make you pay. With time running out on the half, Grant kicked for Munster, and when they came back out for the second half, the hooker managed to find his own way over to make it 30-6.

It continued. Olam shrugged off Staggs in a dismissive manner to score one, then moments later, got on the end of a superb Kenny Bromwich pass for a second.

Corey Oates grabbed one back, which sufficiently spooked Melbourne that, when presented with the chance, they chose to kick a late penalty goal and take time off the clock.

Not that it mattered, as Jahrome Hughes put the tin hat on the result with a well-taken individual try. Asofa-Solomona then redeemed his early mistake from a short side play and Nofoaluma showed Cobbo a clean set of heels. Nick Meaney added the goal to make it a round 60 as time elapsed.

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