Felise Kaufusi’s late try secured Melbourne Storm a massive 18-13 victory over Cronulla Sharks.
In a repeat of last year’s NRL Grand Final, the Storm appeared to have blown a 12-0 lead established in the opening minutes of the game after James Maloney landed a field goal to put the Sharks ahead 13-12.
But Melbourne retrieved a short kick restart and Kaufusi scored off Billy Slater’s pass to secure victory and establish a four-point lead over Cronulla at the top of the ladder.
Kaufusi had scored after just three minutes to give Melbourne the lead before Tim Glasby scored five minutes later.
Cronulla hit back before the break through Luke Lewis and Sosaia Feki scored nine minutes after the break.
James Maloney’s penalty goal levelled the game, and with eight minutes remaining he kicked a field goal to give the defending NRL Premiers a one-point lead.
But Kaufusi scored within 60 seconds of that to secure victory for the Storm.
SHARKS: Holmes, Feki, Bird, Leutele, Beale, Maloney, Townsend, Fifita, Brailey, Prior, Lewis, Graham, Gallen. SUBS: Bukuya, Heighington, Tagatase, Paulo.
STORM: Slater, Vunivalu, Chambers, Blair, Addo-Carr, Munster, Jacks, J Bromwich, Smith, Glasby, Kaufusi, Harris, Finucane. SUBS: McLean, Griffin, K Bromwich, Asofa-Solomona