Storm thump Tigers, claim NRL top spot

Storm thump Tigers, claim NRL top spot

A string of injuries hasn't stopped Melbourne from overwhelming Wests Tigers 66-16 and reclaiming NRL top spot at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The Storm were reduced to 14 men for the final 20 minutes after Kiwi hooker Brandon Smith (corked calf), two try centre Reimis Smith (ankle sprain) and Tom Eisenhuth (dislocated elbow) went down.

There was more drama after giant forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona was sin binned in the 66th minute for high contact.

But the Melbourne juggernaut kept rumbling along, notching their 12th straight win with a 12-tries-to-three thumping after leading 40-0 at halftime.

The Storm (13-2 record) leapfrogged Penrith to reclaim the ladder lead thanks to an NRL record 344 points differential after 15 rounds.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire was so disgusted with his side at the halftime break after they leaked seven unanswered tries that he barely spoke with his players before storming out of the dressing room, taking his support staff with him to leave his forlorn players to figure things out.

The Tigers at least showed some fight in the second stanza, with Tommy Talau (55th minute), Luke Garner (66th) and David Nofoaluma (76th) crossing but it was too little, too late.

Statisticians were reaching for the record books when Melbourne led 60-0 after 52 minutes.

They were on track to at least equal their club record 64-0 thumping of the Tigers back in 2001 which is also the joint venture's heaviest defeat in club history.

While they fell short it equalled the biggest winning margin of 2021 after Melbourne thumped South Sydney 50-0 in round nine.

The Storm had also registered the most first-half points compiled by a team this season, eclipsing Cronulla's 36-6 scoreline against North Queensland in round four.

The barnstorming start just fell short of the all-time NRL halftime record of 48-0 by Newcastle against the Cowboys in 2003.

The Storm scored five tries before the Tigers had completed their first set.

The Storm dominated the first half, running 910m to Tigers' 317m, grabbing 283 post-contact metres to the joint venture's 96 and leading line breaks 7-1 and tackle busts (29-6).

Melbourne now have an 8-0 record at their home away from home, Sunshine Coast Stadium after notching 40 points or more for the ninth time in 12 games.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at Melbourne's AAMI Park but was relocated north due to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy also notched career win No.340, equalling Tim Sheens on second on the all-time list behind Wayne Bennett.

The Tigers were down to 16 men after bench forward Shawn Blore (ankle) went down in the 35th minute.

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