Melbourne have given Cronulla’s NRL title aspirations a reality check with a 30-2 win at Remondis Stadium.
The visitors were clinical and looked like the Storm of old on Monday night as they leapfrogged the Sharks into fifth spot with just three rounds to go.
The Sharks had rocketed into premiership calculation with eight wins from their previous nine starts but the Storm gave them food for thought.
The home side was rarely in the contest as Craig Bellamy’s team kept their own top four hopes alive.
Cooper Cronk was instrumental in both of his side’s first two tries, throwing key balls as the Storm opened up a 12-2 halftime lead.
While Cronulla proved they could mix it with the competition’s big guns with wins over North Queensland, Canterbury and St George Illawarra in recent weeks, they were outclassed by the Storm.
They had their chances and at one time had four sets on the Storm line, only for Melbourne to rush up field and ice the game via Matt Duffie soon after.
Duffie was outstanding, picking up a double and continuing to be one of the side’s good news stories after overcoming a horrific series of potentially career-ending injuries.
While Cameron Munster, who has been outstanding since taking over the No.1 jumper from the injured Billy Slater, was again a standout, scoring his side’s final try.
In further bad news for the Sharks, utility Ben Barba was taken from the field with five minutes to go with what appeared to be an knee injury.