Melbourne Storm: 22 (Fonua 2, Hoffman, Cronk tries; Smith 2, Chambers goals)
Brisbane Broncos: 12 (Hunt, Reed tries; Parker 2 goals)
The Brisbane Broncos season is on a knife edge after going down 22-12 to a Melbourne Storm side that in turn secured their own finals entry at AAMI park on Friday night.
The news wasn’t all good for the Melbourne side however, with captain Cameron Smith succumbing to injury, however returned to see his side close out the game.
It was a tight contest for most of the affair, however some smart play from Mahe Fonua on two separate occasions got the home side over the line.
The nerves showed early on, when Ben barba knocked on as the Broncos peppered the Storm line inside five minutes.
In the 8th minute, the Broncos crossed the try line through Lachlan Maranta only to be called back for the final pass from Dale Copley travelling forward.
When the Storm got their chance to reply, they struck when Ryan Hoffman ran a line through a gaping gap off a Cameron Smith pass to take a 6-nil lead after 13 minutes.
They then doubled their lead just five minutes later when Justin Hodges playing his new role as fullback, spilt a Cooper Cronk grubber in to the arms of Cronk himself who dived over.
Just when it looked like Melbourne could run away with proceedings, Brisbane replied through Ben Hunt. The Broncos half did it all himself scooping the ball up from dummy half before darting between defenders and scoring out wide. The Corey parker conversion closed the gap to just six.
And after the home side lost their skipper to an ankle injury, the Broncos went in again after 34 minutes.
A swift backline movement including a skilled tap on from Hodges allowed Jack Reed to score in the left corner of the field. With the kick waved wide, the scoreline had narrowed to 12-10.
The last five minutes of the first half proved a costly one for Brisbane, with Martin Kennedy placed on report for a high shot, and Jack Reed going off the field after dislocating his shoulder.
After the halftime break, Smith returned and the game returned to being an arm wrestle. Both sides showed a willingness to throw the ball around, but not finding a way through stern defence.
Parker knocked over a penalty goal to lock the game at 12 a piece after 51 minutes, but then the Storm found an extra gear.
A towering Cronk bomb in the 66th minute of play was swallowed up by Fonua, who then bullied his way over past several desperate Broncos’ defenders.
Then six minutes later, Fonua all but locked up the game for his side, when he patiently waited for and claimed an intercept as Hunt looked to make use of a Broncos overlap. Fonua ran 70m to the try line, cheered on by the 20,032 fans, beating both Barba and Maranta to the stripe and sending Melbourne to another finals campaign.