Brisbane remain in the hunt for a top-four finish after stunning NRL leaders Melbourne with a dominant 26-16 victory at AAMI Park.
Looking to atone for a crushing 48-6 loss at the hands of the Storm in round 17, the Broncos produced some of their best football of the season on Friday night to secure their fourth-straight win, moving level with the Cowboys and Bulldogs in fourth spot on the table.
Two first-half tries to centre Tom Opacic set the tone for Brisbane, who dominated possession in the opening term and withheld a determined Storm outfit after the break to ensure the race for the top four goes down to the wire.
The visitors clicked into gear from the outset, showing sublime ball-handling skills to stun the home side twice in early stages.
Sam Thaiday celebrated his 250th NRL game in style thanks to a stunning one-handed offload that caught the Storm defence off-guard to set up Opacic’s opening try after three minutes.
Jordan Kahu’s acrobatic effort in the right corner doubled his team’s advantage five minutes later.
A rare foray deep into Brisbane territory resulted in Melbourne second-rower Tohu Harris reaching over from close range after 26 minutes to halve the early deficit.
But the visitors struck back with a Kahu penalty goal before cashing in on Marika Koroibete’s dropped ball deep in Storm territory, allowing Opacic to score his second four-pointer with two minutes left in the half.
Melbourne looked more energetic after the break but could not wear down Brisbane’s defence.
The Broncos made them pay with a polished back-line move that sent Darius Boyd over for a 20-4 lead after 55 minutes.
Ben Hampton appeared to breathe life into the Storm when he crossed for his first try of the season with 15 minutes left.
But fortune favoured Brisbane when a kick from broken play rolled into the Storm’s in-goal area, with Cooper Cronk slipping in pursuit to allow Jai Arrow to wrap up the match.
The Storm could have secured the minor premiership with a victory, but now face the prospect of a winner-takes-all clash with Cronulla for the JJ Giltinan Shield in the final round, provided the Sharks beat the Roosters on Saturday night.