It was far from magic, but Melbourne still managed to conjure up a 24-22 win over Wests Tigers in a pulsating round-opening NRL match at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
Storm centre Will Chambers scored in the 77th minute to give the home side the victory after they appeared headed for their third consecutive loss to the Tigers.
Melbourne backrower Kenny Bromwich bounced off a Mahe Fonua tackle and managed to get the ball away to Chambers, who showed some neat footwork before shrugging off a Moses Mbye tackle to plant the ball over the line.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy admitted his team were "lucky" to escape with win.
"We kept ourselves in there which was the encouraging part for us," he said.
"Not too much went our way and we made mistakes at crucial times but we kept sticking in there."
Melbourne's 54-point win over Parramatta during Magic Round looked long forgotten with the Tigers dominating for most of the match.
With two points the biggest margin in their past two clashes, Craig Bellamy predicted an arm-wrestle rather than a try-fest and his words rang true with the first four scores of the match coming from penalty kicks.
The Tigers opened up a eight point lead midway through the second half but a try by Storm centre Marion Seve closed the gap to just two with 10 minutes to play to set up a thrilling finale.
It still looked like the Tigers would sneak home with the win until Chambers' late moment of brilliance.
Wests coach Michael Maguire said it was a tough loss to take.
"I thought our boys did enough until the 77th minute mark but unfortunately we missed at the end," he said.
"We came down and put on 22 points but it was just a couple of defensive lapses.
"It was disappointing and the changeroom has got a lot of hurt in it."
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 80-metre 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 prop limped off at halftime with a suspected ACL injury in the same knee that saw him miss the Storm's 2017 premiership-winning campaign.
Australian Associated Press