Melbourne Storm have shaken off a dogged North Queensland in their NRL grand-final rematch to post a 30-14 victory despite the best efforts of Cowboys second-rower Coen Hess.
The hard-running Hess scored a try in each half on Thursday night at AAMI Park but it wasn't enough to stop his team falling to their seventh-successive loss to the Storm including the 2017 title decider.
In a high-energy match, both teams, who were coming off second-round defeats, made plenty of errors in their willingness to chance their arm.
Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu had a first-half shocker when he made a 40m break but left his pass to fellow flyer Josh Addo-Carr too late.
The ball was knocked down by the only Cowboys defender in sight, full-back Ben Hampton.
Melbourne held an 18-8 halftime lead after a costly mistake by North Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan in his first game of the season.
Morgan kicked the ball out on the full, handing the home side possession and territory and reserve prop Christian Welch, in his first touch of the night, steamed on to a Cameron Smith pass for a 33rd-minute try.
Smith added the conversion and then his third penalty goal of the match for the 10-point lead.
Queensland State of Origin representative Hess clawed his team back into the match when — similar to his 25th-minute try — he caught his opposite Ryan Hoffman out in defence and showed brute strength to carry three Storm players over the line.
Another penalty goal by Smith took Melbourne to 20-14 and the Storm took control when Test centre Will Chambers caught the Cowboys' defence napping.
Giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona added their fourth try of the night for a convincing scoreline.