Melbourne’s ugly NRL win over Gold Coast has come at a cost with star halfback Jahrome Hughes the latest to join their bulging casualty ward.
The Storm scrapped their way to 32-14 over the last-placed Titans at AAMI Park on Friday night thanks to a hat-trick of tries to Cameron Munster, who started at fullback for the first time since round one in 2018.
But their defensive woes continued with a horror 45 missed tackles while they also racked up 13 errors.
A better side would have made them pay dearly but Gold Coast lacked the finishing polish to take control of the game.
It was feared Hughes temporarily dislocated his shoulder in contact late in the first half and with no strength in the joint he was replaced in the second stanza by Tyran Wishart.
Gold Coast also lost Aaron Booth 13 minutes into the game with the hooker departing for scans on his knee before fulltime.
Melbourne had all the early running, with tries by returning winger Xavier Coates, Munster and Kenny Bromwich setting up a 16-0 lead.
Wests Tigers recruit David Nofoaluma almost opened the try-scoring six minutes in but the ball was dislodged by Titans winger Jojo Fifita.
Just when it looked like the Storm would romp away, Gold Coast fired up with Beau Fermor and then Herman Ese’ese both finding holes to cross three minutes apart.
The Titans further closed the 22-10 halftime deficit with Brian Kelly running on to a neat grubberkick by AJ Brimson.
But Munster magic in the 64th minute gave the home side some breathing room after Cooper Johns, who impressed as his replacement at five-eighth, was brought down just short of the tryline.
Dummy-half Harry Grant then fired a long ball to Munster who glided through the defence for his third of the night.
Young Tonumaipea, playing his first NRL game since 2020 after a Mormon mission and then a stint in rugby, capped the night with a try in the final minute.
While there were some positives for embattled coach Justin Holbrook, the result kept Gold Coast winless away from home for the season and extended their losing streak to 10.