They were flying high after three-straight wins, but the St George Illawarra Dragons have come crashing back to earth on Sunday.
The clash against the Storm always loomed as a litmus test for a Dragons side that had reeled off victories over the Knights, Roosters and Tigers in recent weeks.
The Storm were off their game throughout the first half before clicking into top gear after the break and piling on the points.
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A 12-0 lead eventually became 42-6, Jack de Belin crossing for a late St George Illawarra try.
The score took Melbourne to 335 points for the season, eclipsing the 1935 Roosters for most points through the first nine games of the competition.
Sunday's result sets up a mouth-watering top of the table clash during Magic Round next Saturday night, the Storm to take on Penrith at a sold out Suncorp Stadium.
The outcome should act as an indicator of how far Anthony Griffin's squad is from matching it with the NRL's premiership contenders.
The Dragons fought hard throughout the first half, repelling a number of Melbourne attacking raids.
Despite the effort, the error and missed tackle counts were high, causing the side to expend a significant amount of energy in order to remain in the contest.
That helped the Storm run riot throughout the second half, Craig Bellamy's side building on what he considered a below-par opening 40 minutes.
While pleased with the first half performance, Griffin was disappointed with his side's defensive effort late in the contest.
"I wasn't happy with some of the stuff at the back end of the game," Griffin said.
"They got an intercept 10 minutes before half-time. Up until then, I thought it was a really good arm wrestle."
St George Illawarra's attack was again a major area of concern, the side now having scored just 24 points in their last three matches.
Melbourne easily accounted for almost everything the Dragons threw at them, Griffin's men rarely threatening to break through.
That was despite the late inclusion of Talatau Amone in the starting side, Jack Bird making his return to the field through the back row.
Jayden Sullivan also retained his place on the bench, Griffin injecting the youngster into the game after 50 minutes.
The utility tried hard, but entered the field with his side trailing 18-0 and there was little he could do to slow the Storm momentum.
Griffin conceded the Dragons lacked patience when presented with attacking chances, the coach disappointed with some of the options his players took.
"They're a really good side defensively," he said. "We needed a bit more patience and a bit more polish on last play when we got our field position.
"There were a couple of near misses but that was the challenge today, to hang in with the game and wait until we got our chance.
"But we were a little bit impatient and didn't apply enough pressure on last play."
While it took the Melbourne 20 minutes to open the scoring, they were twice denied by the bunker throughout the opening exchanges.
Ryan Papenhuyzen was not going to be stopped, however, the fullback slicing through some poor Dragons defence to put his side on top.
Nick Meaney made it 12-0 in the 31st minute, the Storm turning defence into attack after a sloppy Bird error.
That was where the scoring stopped in the first half, St George Illawarra holding firm to ensure they remained in the contest.
It was a period in which the Dragons had multiple opportunities to strike, however they rarely looked like breaking the Melbourne defensive line.
While the Storm were off their game in the first half, their early dominance translated to points in the second.
With their opponents on the back foot, Melbourne took any opportunity possible to attack.
That led to a second Papenhuyzen try 10 minutes into the half, extending the margin to 18. That would mark the end of the Storm fullback's afternoon, the star leaving the field with a hamstring strain.
From there it was all one-way traffic, Melbourne running in three more tries before de Belin's late consolation try.
The Storm would have the final say, however, courtesy of a Trent Loiero four-pointer.
Sports reporter at the Canberra Times
Sports reporter at the Canberra Times
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