Five matches into the NRL season, two things have become very clear.
When the Melbourne Storm are good, they are irresistible but when they are bad, or more accurately when they are committing penalties and errors, the opposition has a field day.
Both sides of the Storm's persona were on show in their nail-biting 28-26 loss to Gold Coast Titans at AAMI Park on Sunday in front of 11,930 fans.
The Storm trailed for much of the second half but fought back to level the match on a Cameron Smith penalty goal with eight minutes remaining yet were foiled by a controversial penalty on 150-gamer Ryan Hinchcliffe and Smith, for scraping the ball out from Luke Douglas.
Titans back-rower Greg Bird took the chance to win the game with the resulting penalty goal from 32 metres out with 19 seconds left, which he converted.
Storm fans booed the refereed as they left the field with replays seemingly showing Douglas had dropped the ball rather than had it removed from his grasp.
The Storm have now lost two straight after winning their first three matches. The return of captain Smith looked to have brought calm to the Storm's attack after their failures in last week's game.
Smith found Cooper Cronk on seven minutes who chipped up an accurate kick for winger Sisa Waqa who went in for the first try but Nate Myles' breakaway on 15 minutes almost saw him score a memorable try before he was stopped at the line by Justin O'Neill.
But O'Neill's work was undone soon after when the Titans attacked down their left flank and found winger Kevin Gordon for a try on the corner. The conversion missed and the Storm led 6-4.
The Titans took the lead just minutes later when Billy Slater was unable to hold onto a contested high ball with Gordon taking the ball from Slater's hands, which led to Brad Tighe scoring in that same corner to make it 8-6.
With all the momentum the Titans couldn't find another avenue to the line, instead the Storm put the ball in Cronk's hands who again put up a high kick right in front of Waqa's path with the winger getting his double as Storm took back the lead 12-8 after 25 minutes.
Against the run of play, Gold Coast struck back with Anthony Don putting up a surprise kick after towards the middle of the ground with fullback David Mead leaping highest to bring it down and score under the posts to make it 14-12 after 30 minutes.
Waqa could have had his hat-trick in the shadow of half-time but he dropped a pass from Will Chambers right on the line as the Titans led 14-12 at the break.
Albert Kelly's cat-like reflexes intercepted a Ben Hampton pass at his own 40-metre line and sprinted in for a try after just four minutes to extend the visitors' lead to 20-12.
The Storm responded in the best way as Smith run through an opening then found Cronk who drew in the last defender and offloaded to Kenny Bromwich to make it 20-18 with eight minutes of the second half gone.
Storm first-gamer Dayne Weston made himself known to the referees with his poor tackle placed on report early in the second half then at the other end the Titans extended their own lead to 26-18 after David Mead's pass opened the way from Mark Minichiello to score.
But again the Storm bounced back with Smith's long-kicking pushing them back into the Titans' half then his cut out pass setting up the drive when left Chambers to score in the right corner to cut the margin back to 26-24 with 20 minutes to play.
Titans hooker Beau Falloon drew the boos of the Melbourne fans after he tipped Chambers in a tackle on 70 minutes with the Storm centre's shoulder all that stopped him landing head-first. Falloon was placed on report.
The Storm host St George Illawarra at AAMI Park next Monday night at 7pm.
Gold Coast Titans 28 (K Gordon, B Tighe, D Mead, A Kelly, M Minichiello; Bird penalty goal) d Melbourne Storm 26 (S Waqa 2, K Bromwich, W Chambers; Smith penalty goal) at AAMI Park on Sunday. Crowd: 11,930.
- FFX Aus
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