Melbourne Storm 12

Canterbury Bulldogs 6

Melbourne equal led their best start to a season when they overcame Canterbury 12-6 on in a hard-fought battle at AAMI Park.

The win was the unbeaten competition frontrunner's seventh in succession to match their start to their 2007 campaign.


The Storm were made to scrap for their victory against the the Bulldogs, who had the bulk of possession throughout the game with Melbourne's trademark defence stretched to its limit.

Melbourne had the start they were looking for to the second half when second-rower Ryan Hoffman ran on to a Gareth Widdop pass and split the defence in the 43rd minute.

But the Bulldogs, who were coming off a round-six loss to Souths, didn't drop their bundle.

They had plenty of chances as they spent most of the second half camped inside Melbourne's 20-metre zone, hammering at the Storm defence.

Corey Payne came to within an inch of the tryline with the goalpost pad, as well as Billy Slater, stopping a four-pointer and then five-eighth Josh Reynolds was brought down just short with the Bulldogs again left empty-handed.

Their last chance came in the final minute when winger Bryson Goodwin raced to touch down but, again, Melbourne defenders were on the spot.

In the first half, the visitors used their big forwards like Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood to rattle the Storm and forced Melbourne to make uncharacteristic errors as they pushed passes.

The visitors, whose last win in Melbourne was in 2005, opened the scoring when skipper Michael Ennis fired a flat pass on to Eastwood who found a hole between Ryan Hinchcliffe and Widdop to charge across the line.

Melbourne levelled through Hinchcliffe, who pushed his chances for an Australian call-up when he linked up with skipper Cameron Smith and beat four defenders to touch down.

Veteran Hoffman said their defence won the game.

"I lost count of how many sets we defended on our line," Hoffman said.

"Our defence on our tryline was fantastic."

MELBOURNE 12 (R Hinchcliffe R Hoffman tries C Smith 2 goals) bt BULLDOGS 6 (G Eastwood try S Turner goal) at AAMI Park. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Adam Devcich. Crowd: 14,912.