The Storm roll on. This was their toughest test since round one, with the Bulldogs pushing them to the limit, but their famous resilience was enough to get them home.
The Bulldogs had plenty of chances against a Melbourne side who were slightly below par but couldn't crack their resolute defence.
The Storm, who reeled in an early 6-0 deficit, stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches since the start of the season, just the second time they have achieved that in their history.
This match was everything you would expect from a battle between first and third; high quality, high intensity and few chances.
The Bulldogs shaded the first half and should have created more with their weight of possession. The Storm improved their attack in the second half but it was their defence that would win the day.
Des Hasler will take heart from his team's effort and knows they will improve over the year.
The Storm are now a perfect seven from seven and already should be favourites for the minor premiership. But the suspicion remains that their effective but formulaic style of play could still be vulnerable to a team with momentum in the finals series.
Of greater interest on this side of the Tasman was the form of several Kiwi candidates ahead of the test team being named tonight.
Matt Duffie did his chances no harm with a solid match as did Kevin Proctor.
Greg Eastwood would be an outsider though he has been a Stephen Kearney favourite in the past and was impressive. Frank Pritchard has his moments but the 112kg 'Frank the tank' could get more involved than he does.
Sam Kasiano showed his inexperience with some crucial errors towards the end.
The first half was a grinding affair, with the Bulldogs in particular playing a conservative game, happy to find the touchline to nullify the undoubted threat of Billy Slater.
Eastwood showed nice footwork to shuffle over from close range in the 15th minute.
It was nothing more than the visitors deserved, as they shaded the first quarter.
The Storm struggled for territory but from virtually their first attack Ryan Hinchcliffe - who is tipped as a dark horse for the Kangaroos side to be named this evening - burst on to a Smith pass to tie the game up in the 27th minute.
After a characteristic Bellamy tirade at halftime the Storm quickly responded, Ryan Hoffman punching over off a Gareth Widdop pass three minutes into the second half.
As usual with the Melbourne side, there was a shady element in the build-up, with Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba taken out by Siosaia Vave who made no attempt to catch a Cronk bomb.
Storm 12 (R. Hinchcliffe, R. Hoffman tries; C.Smith 2 goals) Bulldogs 6 (G. Eastwood try; S. Turner goal). Halftime: 6-0.By Michael Burgess Email Michael