Cameron Munster dominates as Melbourne overcomes fearsome challenge from Cronulla

Melbourne dropped Cronulla in a high-quality clash at AAMI Park, while Manly withstood a late challenge from the Titans.

Check out all the live news and stats from Saturday’s NRL action below.

Melbourne Storm 34 vs. Cronulla Sharks 18

Some of Cameron Munster’s magic has helped Melbourne secure a brilliant 34-18 victory over Cronulla with the playmaker proving why he is on every NRL club’s wish list.

In a high-quality match on Saturday night at AAMI Park, where two of the top three NRL teams met, Storm scored five tries against three and Munster got one while playing a starring role in three others.

The Sharks’ cause was not helped by the loss of captain Dale Finucane eight minutes into his first meeting against his former club after failing an HIA.

Melbourne missed its captain with Jesse Bromwich and his brother Kenny, both with COVID-19.

Justin Olam scored the first of his two attempts in the 19th minute when Munster fired a long ball to winger Nick Meaney, who passed inside for the Melbourne center.

Charging

The Sharks responded with ease through their own center Siosifa Talakai, whose silky hands also set up two second-half tries for Ronaldo Mulitalo.

Munster’s individual brilliance was on display when he threw three dummies and went in and around the Sharks’ defense from 40 yards to land.

His skills are sure to have Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett salivating at the prospect of luring the north five-eighth.

The Storm led 12-8 at halftime, but Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon could hardly have asked for more with his team completing nearly 100 percent and committing just two errors.

Charging

Melbourne immediately made life difficult when they earned a scrum at the second-half kickoff with Munster sending the ball rebounding between defenders and into touch.

Closing out the scrum, hooker Harry Grant picked up the ball at the back and unloaded it to running back Jahrome Hughes, who found Olam for his second try.

Mulitalo scored in the 46th and 60th minutes, which again closed the margin to six points but that was the closest the visitors came.

Another big doll from Munster allowed Ryan Papenhuyzen to score before Grant pulled away from the half doll for his fifth and final attempt of the night.

On a sour note for the Storm, Felise Kaufusi was called out twice, first for a late tackle and then for a shredder.

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Manly Sea Eagles 26 der Gold Coast Titans 18

Manly made it two straight NRL wins without superstar Tom Trbojevic as they repelled a David Fifita-inspired comeback to beat Gold Coast 26-18 at Brookvale.

After leading by 20 points at halftime, Manly looked in danger of collapsing in the second as the Titans ran on three straight attempts.

But a late penalty was enough for the Sea Eagles to seal victory on Saturday night, turning around their poor start to the year to sit comfortably in fifth place with four straight wins.

And, in particular, they have done it for the last two weeks without Trbojevic.

Manly went wild in the first half. (Getty ImagesCameron Spencer )

Once considered the most difficult man to replace in rugby league, the Sea Eagles have now won six of their last seven without Trbojevic since last season.

Reuben Garrick was brilliant again replacing Trbojevic at fullback, scoring a try of his own in the first half.

Concerned for coach Des Hasler, Garrick1 appeared to suffer a cork injury to his leg in the second half but pressed on.

Kieran Foran also scored a try late in the first half as the Titans gave up possession on a kickoff, while Haumole Olakau’atu was brutal on the right edge.

The second rower scored Manly’s first try when he ran into a Daly Cherry-Evans grubberkick, and scored another when he broke through.

The Tongan star could easily have had another, stopped by AJ Brimson and Jamayne Isaako just two moves before he got his second try.

He also finished the game injured with a leg problem, struggling to walk from the field a week before the Sea Eagles’ big clash with the high-flying Cronulla.

Charging

While Olakau’atu had 121 meters in his 15 runs, the Titans’ biggest problem remains getting his counterpart Fifita more involved.

The Titans’ million-dollar man looked dangerous at every touch, setting up a try in the first half when he twice knocked out Brad Parker to put Jamayne Isaako over the top.

He also scored one of his own in the second half, again dispatching defenders Christian Tuipulotu and Foran to charge over the top.

But he only had 13 possessions as the Titans went stretches of the game without finding their danger man.

Brian Kelly and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui also scored second-half tries to make the game 24-18 with 14 minutes left, giving Gold Coast a genuine chance.

But when Fa’asuamaleaui was found to be offside after being caught in the ruck while helping to save a try with five minutes remaining, Cherry-Evans was able to kick Manly.

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