The Tigers have been left to lick their wounds after coughing up an eight-point lead to gift Melbourne a 24-22 victory in the dying minutes of their Thursday night clash at AAMI Park.
The Tigers had the better of their opponents all night, consistently penetrating the Storm’s right edge to stun the NRL heavyweights with three tries in a period 20-minutes.
But as has happened on several occasions this season, Craig Bellamy’s men failed to roll over as they clawed their way back into the fray with minutes left on the clock.
With victory in sight, the Tigers seemingly relinquished the ball movement that had their opponents rattled, giving way to a period of frantic defensive play that saw Storm veteran Will Chambers across the line in the 78th minute.
Questions will be asked of Tigers winger Mahe Fonua who struggled for the majority of the night, rushing out of the line to allow chambers through for the winning blow.
Despite the loss, the trinity of Luke Brooks, Robbie Farah and Benji Marhsall again reaped benefits for Michael Maguire who looked visibly shocked in the coaches’ box following the match.
The Tigers led 12-8 at halftime with Josh Aloiai crashing over in the 33rd minute while rookie Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen backed up his hot stint off the bench against the Eels.
The 20-year-old slipped through three Tigers defenders and raced untouched for 80 metres in a superb solo effort in his first NRL start.
Putting a dampener on Melbourne’s win was a serious knee injury to Queensland Origin hopeful Christian Welch.
The 24-year-old prop limped off AAMI Park after suffering the injury in the final set of the first half, looking despondent.
Melbourne tweeted soon after that he had an “suspected ACL” and would go for scans.
Welch was 18th man for the Maroons in game three last year and was hopeful of breaking into the playing squad, with some consistent performances in the Storm’s stellar start to the season.
Welch injured the same knee in round nine in May 2017, ruling him out of their run to the premiership.