NRL: Storm shaky in win over Titans

Billy Slater out-runs everybody during the Melbourne Storm's win over the Gold Coast Titans. Photo / Getty Images
Billy Slater out-runs everybody during the Melbourne Storm's win over the Gold Coast Titans. Photo / Getty Images

Melbourne's NRL title aspirations remain under a cloud as they were forced to claw their way to a 24-16 win over Gold Coast at home on Friday night.

The victory was their second after a five-game losing streak but the Storm looked far from the pace-setting side that rolled through the start of the season with nine successive victories.

The Titans set up a heart-stopping finish when they scored a converted try with 10 minutes left after David Mead pounced on a pin-point kick by five-eighth Aidan Sezer to close the gap to 18-16.

But the home side sealed the result as the ball went through six pairs of hands on the final tackle before finding try-scorer Gareth Widdop.

Melbourne trailed 10-0 at halftime but responded to a massive blast from coach Craig Bellamy in emphatic style, scoring two tries through Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in the opening six minutes of the second half to lead 12-10.

The ninth-placed Titans, desperate for some NRL finals action, didn't lie down but, when Storm lock Ryan Hoffman slid across for a try in the greasy conditions for an eight-point lead, it was an uphill battle for the visitors.

Compounding the task for Gold Coast was losing prop Luke Bailey to an Achilles injury in only the eighth minute and then lock Ashley Harrison midway through the half with a glute injury.

Melbourne took advantage of their opponents' two-man bench to make inroads up the centre of the field which was something they failed to do in a disappointing first half.

Mahe Fonua became the first Victorian player to make his first grade debut when he was called in for winger Anthony Quinn but he had a nightmare opening 20 minutes.

The 19-year-old dropped the ball with his first touch three minutes into the game, was caught out of position which handed the Titans their first try to centre Steve Michaels, and then spilled a simple Slater pass.

The youngster found his feet and was unlucky not to finish with a try.

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