Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has hailed his side's dedication and humility on their way to a club-equalling record 15th consecutive victory in the NRL, beating North Queensland 20-16 in a match where they were pushed to their limit.
On a night when the Storm were comfortably expected to better their 2021 average winning margin of 25 points, the 13th placed Cowboys instead made the premiership fancies work for 80 minutes to get the result.
Bellamy said he was impressed by the Cowboys in recent weeks and they dealt his side a reality check in Townsville on Friday.
"It's been a while since we've had as much pressure on us defensively as we did tonight," he said.
"It's one of those games we were very, very lucky to win but we'll take it and move on the next week."
In reflecting on a landmark night for his playing group, Bellamy said it was the collective effort of his squad that had spurred their success.
"I am real proud of them, but you probably wouldn't have thought that at halftime," Bellamy joked.
"It's been a difficult situation as it has been for all teams, but to do what they've done is been quite remarkable."
More records tumbled for the the Storm as Josh Addo-Carr brought up his 100th career try - and two on the night - on their way to victory.
In doing so, he became the second-fastest player to register the three-figure mark behind Nathan Blacklock.
But the Cowboys refused to concede as the visitors seemed comfortably set to see the game out, and when Kane Bradley scored off what looked to be a clear forward pass the margin was back to four points in the 74th minute.
The home side had two more sets of six in the match but couldn't conjure the play to get them the most unlikely of wins at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
In a bizarre half that saw four disallowed tries between the two teams, Addo-Carr opened the scoring but the Cowboys refused to yield.
The Storm's Justin Olam was denied in the 16th minute but only had to wait two more minutes to open his account when Nicho Hynes' cut-out pass found Addo-Carr who kicked perfectly for his chasing centre to dot down and make it 10-0.
A try by Coen Hess on the stroke of halftime and winger Kyle Feldt in the 51st minute gave the Cowboys a shock 12-10 lead before the class of the Storm ultimately told.
With their 18th win of 2021, the Storm also extended their unbeaten run against the Cowboys to 13 and won their 26th straight match in Queensland over a four-year span.
Australian Associated Press