Cameron Smith's 350th NRL match was a walk in the (AAMI) Park for the Melbourne Storm today, with the ladder leaders putting down a 40-6 victory over top four hopefuls Manly.
A sparkling performance from the milestone man was just what the Storm were after as they took the Sea Eagles apart - four try assists together with six goals from eight attempts was more than enough as last year's runners up put breathing space between themselves and the chasing Roosters once again.
Manly were first on the board with a penalty goal in the 7th minute but the lead was short lived (and the last time they'd see it) when Jahrome Hughes scored the Storm's first in the 16th minute.
Having converted that try, Smith extended the Melbourne lead to six with a penalty goal near the half hour mark, although the Sea Eagles answered back through Matt Wright straight away, narrowing the gap to two. Just before the break however, the prolific Suliasi Vunivalu crossed the line to add another to his tally for 2017. Smith's missed conversion ensured the visitors remained within a converted try as the sides switched ends.
A slow start to the second half gave way to a flurry of points from around the 50 minute mark. Joe Stimson and Kenny Bromwich proved second-rowers are good for a try or two, helping the Storm cruise to a 24-6 lead. After conceding 50 last week against the Dragons, the Sea Eagles were staring down the barrel of another flogging - and Melbourne duly obliged, running in three tries in the final ten minutes of the contest.
Will Chambers scored at the 70th minute to put the result beyond any reasonable doubt, before Cooper Cronk scored off a well-placed Smith kick just two minutes later. The match was capped with the electric Josh Addo-Carr scoring in the closing moments, the Bunker clearing the lead-up play and allowing the Storm to hit 50.
Another top-eight showdown awaits the Storm as they head north for a clash with the Cowboys this Friday in Townsville, while the Sea Eagles are at home but face a daunting task in tackling the Roosters next Sunday.