NRL: Broncos shock table-topping Storm

Tom Opacic of the Broncos is congratulated by Ben Hunt after scoring a try against the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Opacic of the Broncos is congratulated by Ben Hunt after scoring a try against the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty Images

The Broncos sent shockwaves through the NRL after producing their best performance of the season to rock Melbourne's minor premiership hopes at AAMI Park.

Seemingly on the canvas a month ago, the Broncos have emphatically risen and they could punch their way to the title after a 26-16 boilover of the league leaders.

The Storm were on the cusp of a fairytale evening, only needing victory to clinch a much-deserved minor premiership for the first time in five years.

Instead, they were stunned by a Broncos ambush as Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt and Matt Gillett did a tactical hatchet job on the Storm to post Brisbane's fourth successive victory.

The Broncos are still likely to miss the top-four on percentages, but Wayne Bennett's troops will now believe they can win from Planet Mars after dominating from start to finish.

The glorious ghosts of 2006 are stirring. A decade ago, it was a late-season game against Melbourne that kickstarted Brisbane's charge to their most recent premiership.

Now it has taken another Storm showdown to play Brisbane back into the premiership equation.

Inspired by two-try rookie centre Tom Opacic, the Broncos bolted to an early 8-0 lead, led 14-4 at half-time and went for the jugular after the break to gatecrash Melbourne's minor-premiership party.

It was Brisbane's fourth win in 21 games against the Storm - and the first time in 13 years they have won back-to-back matches in Melbourne.

"We had a game plan we could execute and it was satisfying to do that. They stuck it to us but we responded. It's very satisfying," Broncos skipper Corey Parker said.

Of Thaiday, who was magnificent in his 250th game, Parker said: "He's been leading from the front for a while. For us, it's about action, turning up for each other and executing and that's what was missing earlier in the year."

Not even a late Cameron Smith try could mask the reality that Melbourne's monster pack were bullied by a Broncos defensive unit that has rediscovered the hunger that wins titles.

Melbourne are the NRL's best defensive team but they were unnerved by Brisbane's tactical blueprint.

The Broncos played up tempo and went for early shifts in a bid to test the Storm's compressed defence.

Brisbane's kick-chase best illustrated their attitude. They were here to play. And when their energetic kick chase forced Marika Koroibete into a terrible tryline fumble, Opacic pounced, posting his second try in the 38th minute for a shock 14-4 half-time lead.

The second half became a battle of wills. On that score, the Broncos were never going to be headed.

When Hunt and Anthony Milford combined to put Darius Boyd over in the 53rd minute, the shellshocked Storm were toast at 20-4.

"That was pretty good," coach Bennett said. "There's not a lot of things to regret.

"They started spot on and they had to be ... the boys were on from the kick-off."

Here come the Broncos.

Brisbane 26 (T Opacic 2 J Arrow D Boyd J Kahu tries C Parker 2 J Kahu goals) bt Melbourne 16 (B Hampton T Harris C Smith tries C Smith 2 goals)

- news.com.au

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