The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 28-24 by the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park, Melbourne on Monday.
The Red-and-Whites scored four tries in the harrowing loss succumbing to defeat in the final minute of play.
Head Coach Steve Price had made several changes to the line-up announced midweek with prop Leeson Ah Mau promoted to the starting forward pack in lieu of Dan Hunt who shifted to the interchange.
The Dapto Canaries junior was joined by fellow prop Mike Cooper as well as second-rowers Bronson Harrison and Will Matthews on the bench.
The Dragons had not won in the Victorian capital for over a decade but struck early on the right flank to try and overturn the daunting statistic through centre Dylan Farrell five minutes in.
Dragons winger Jason Nightingale had been the instigator for the early points grab.
The New Zealand international, upon realisation he was to be denied the spoils himself by the home side’s defence, instinctively managed to flick the ball back inside for his teammate to collect and score.
However, the four-point buffer was shortly lived with the hosts replying through prop Jesse Browmich in the 16th minute.
Storm captain Cameron Smith converted to make it 6-4.
The home side continued their charge forward and later notched a second try through centre Will Chambers who capitalised off an awkward bounce not tamed by Dragons fullback Josh Dugan.
Yet, in a twist-of-fate, the bounce of the ball later benefitted the visitors and rewarded winger Brett Morris with a try.
In a moment of drama started by Storm fullback Billy Slater failing to control an approaching bomb launched by Dragons halfback Michael Witt, second-rower Will Matthews seized upon the ensuing loose ball to offload left to centre Gerard Beale who in turn found the Australia international on the wing to score.
Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop converted to make it 10-all.
On the cusp of halftime the Dragons took a two-point lead through a Widdop penalty conversion after Chambers was placed on report for a shoulder charge on Dugan.
The Dragons mounted an early offensive once new stanza play commenced and added twelve unanswered points before the hour mark.
The Red V inflicted the first blow in the 46th minute through the ping-pong partnership of Morris and Beale, the latter etching his name on the score sheet.
Dragons lock Trent Merrin followed suit six minutes later with a charge-and-barge between the sticks having pounced on another Storm defensive mishap.
Widdop converted both tires to make it 24-10.
Yet, momentum later swung the hosts’ way and they soon found themselves with the deficit pegged back to two points.
The Storm struck first in the 66th minute through Chambers’ inside run en route to his second of the fixture before halfback Cooper Cronk found space to do likewise three minutes later.
Smith converted both attempts to make it 24-22.
Unfortunately, on the sound of the siren, the Storm clinched victory and two competition points through winger Young Tonumaipea.
Smith converted to make it 28-24.
Melbourne Storm 28 defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons 24.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24. Tries: Farrell, Morris, Beale, Dugan. Goals: Widdop (3/4). Penalty Goal: Widdop (1/1).
Melbourne Storm 28. Tries: Chambers (2), Bromwich, Cronk, Tonumaipea. Goals: Smith (4/5).