Billy Slater collects the TV man of the match after another great display. His other big-three mates Cronk and Smith wouldn't have been far behind.
That's all for tonight. Catch you next time
MELBOURNE 27 (B Slater 2 C Cronk S Waqa tries C Smith 5 goals C Cronk field goal) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 14 (A Johnston 2 A Reynolds tries A Reynolds goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Gavin Reynolds. Crowd: 18,508.
Souths were great for the 20 mins after half-time tonight, and looked like absolute world beaters. Unfortunately the other 60 mins were pretty ordinary.
The Storm were consistent, as always, and their big guns were great again. That's a handy win for Melbourne with Origin just around the corner.
It's full-time. Melbourne 27 Souths 14.
After a disappointing start to the season, Melbourne send a signal to the rest of the competition that they're not gone just yet.
Souths get the ball back from the kick-off and George Burgess rumbles 40 metres right up the middle of the park ... and loses the ball in the tackle, just 10 metres out from the Storm try line.
73rd min: Cronk drop goal. Clinical, professional and the Storm should get home now.
Melbourne 27 Souths 14
Tonumaipea goes straight through the Souths defence from a 20-metre tap and Bryan Norrie (of all people) goes very close to scoring. The ref sends it upstairs ... no try. How did he not score? It would have been easier to score.
71st min: Cronk hits the post with a shot at field goal. That would have just about sealed it. Rabbits still alive.
Craig Bellamy, in his 300th game as a coach, is like a caged lion stalking around the Storm coaching box. Must be fun up there with him. 300 games will send anyone mad.
I wish I had all the money in Craig Bellamys Swear Jar — Beau Ryan (@therealbeauryan) May 16, 2014
The Rabbits don't have a great record in big games in recent years, so they'll be desperate to pull this out of the fire. But you've just got the feeling Melbourne will be too consistent. 13 mins to go, it's still 26-14 to Melbourne.
Billy now just 1 try behind the 4th all time try scorer Terry Lamb (164) #NRLSouMel — Joel Caine (@JoelCaine) May 16, 2014
56th min: Slater scores for Melbourne, but there's a hint of obstruction. Video ref says it's OK. Smith converts from a handy position and that's put a halt to the Rabbitoh's momentum. They'd had 75% of possession in the second half up to that point.
Melbourne 26 Souths 14
George Burgess goes very close, in fact he runs into the posts - and they're still rocking.
Another penalty to Souths. And Smith is blowing up a treat. Souths on the attack again. There's only one team on the field at the moment.
Alex Johnston can finish... here come the @SSFCRABBITOHS! #NRLSouMel — NRL (@NRL) May 16, 2014
50th min: And the Bunnies capitalise. Dylan Walker gets on the outside of his man to put Johnston over for his second try. The young winger still had plenty of work to do too. That's 5 tries in just his 4th game. Reynolds hits the post from the touchline.
Melbourne 20 Souths 14
The Bunnies are down to just 2 players on the bench at the moment, with Turner still off and Auva'a being assessed. There's a fair chance they'll finish the game like that too. Penalty Souths, and they're coming for Melbourne!
Melbourne go very close to scoring after a Cronk cross-field bomb hits the deck and Kevin Proctor nearly dives on the loose ball.
Sutton nearly goes through again from the kick-off. He set up the try with a big left foot step.
43rd min: Maybe there is hope for NSW! If they pick Sutton and Reynolds in the halves because Sutton has put Reynolds over under the posts, and the Rabbits are back. Reynolds converts.
Melbourne 20 Souths 10
Inglis has KO'd Auva'a while defusing a bomb, and the youngster is escorted from the field for a concussion test. You don't need a doctor to tell you he's in trouble.
We're back for the second half. Given Melbourne's preference for close finishes, the Bunnies should storm back into this.
Melbourne had 65% of the ball in the first half and Souths made 168 tackles to the Storm's 106. There's your match right there.
Melbourne's forwards have been great, but it's Smith and Cronk who are directing traffic yet again. Given how well Johnathan Thurston played last weekend, there are ominous signs (again) for NSW in Origin.
Anyone else but a big name player would be on report for that shoulder charge @nrl are getting worse. Rules for some rules for others! — Daniel Smith (@13DSmith) May 16, 2014
That's half-time. The Storm have done what they do well: create pressure with controlled, mistake-free football, and Souths had few answers.
Melbourne 20 Souths 4
40th min: And the Storm do get reward for their dominance with a try in the final seconds of the half. Good hands find Waqa who goes over in the corner. The ref goes upstairs to check the grounding, and possibly a shoulder charge after the try from Inglis. It's a try and Inglis gets a caution, but he's not on report. Smith converts from touch.
Storm 20 Rabbitohs 4
The Rabbitohs will probably be happy with 14-4, given how they've played. They're still in it with a few minutes to the break.
@SSFCRABBITOHS Played 4 Friday night games so far. Start fav 4 times. Won 1 v Pen Lost 3 v Manly, Wests Tigers & Dogs — Glenn Munsie (@glennmunsieTAB) May 16, 2014
31st min: The Bunnies bounce back. Second-man play to Greg Inglis out the back and Alex Johnston beats Slater to score in the corner. The ref goes upstairs to check for obstruction but it's a try. Reynolds' conversion attempt is a shocker from touch.
Storm 14 Rabbits 4
The Bunnies kick it dead from the kick-off. And Melbourne march it up the field and narrowly miss another opportunity to score.
24th min: And the Storm are in again. They go wide to the right before Cronk takes an inside pass from Sisa Waqa and dives between a gang of Souths defenders to score. The Storm are up for it and the Bunnies look shellshocked.
Smith converts from near touch.
Storm 14 Rabbitohs 0
Penalty for a high tackle on Ryan Hoffman - and he might have scored otherwise. The Storm's big names are really up for this.
The Rabbits make another mistake in their own territory. They're making life tough for themselves. Storm on the attack again.
18th min: Penalty to the Storm right in front. And Smith knocks it over.
Storm 8 Rabbits 0
Cronk forces a drop out - and the pressure continues. The outsiders are looking good early.
13th min: Slater misses another try by inches after he grubbers ahead for himself, and the Storm are mounting plenty of pressure.
Young Souths player Kyle Turner has gone up the tunnel with injury, looks to be a concussion test.
Both sides willing to move the ball early, and the surface looks pretty dry and fast. This game has all the signs of being a ripper. Still 6-0 Storm.
3rd min: And the Storm are in early through Billy Slater. Cooper Cronk grubbers back towards the posts and Slater picks up on the fly.
Storm 6 Rabbitohs 0
There's a big story breaking in rugby league at the moment. The NRL has announced Newcastle players and staff have not been paid recently.
The Storm are rank outsiders tonight (nearly $3 with the punting establishments), even with the big three of Slater, Cronk and Smith in the line-up. It would be a long while since that's happened.
And that's probably got a lot to do with the fact the Storm has the fifth worst defensive record in the competition.
It would be a very long time since that's happened.
Welcome to tonight's coverage of the South Sydney Rabbitohs v the Melbourne Storm.
There's all manner of sub-plots to this one with the State of Origin series around the corner.
It promises to be a big game and, given the number of close games Melbourne has played in this season, it could go down to the wire.
Cameron Smith will start at five-eighth tonight and Joel Romelo will come off the bench for the Storm, while the Rabbitohs are very settled at the moment.
ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park, Friday 7.40pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Qualifying final 2013 - Rabbitohs 20 bt Storm 10 at ANZ Stadium
Head-to-head: Rabbitohs 4 Storm 19 Drawn 1
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Gavin Reynolds
TV: Live, Channel 9 (delay in Brisbane)
Ladbrokes: Rabbitohs $1.48, Storm $2.70
Betfair: Rabbitohs $1.50, Storm $3.00
Michael Chammas writes: Any hoodoo the Storm held over South Sydney in Michael Maguire's early days in charge of the Bunnies is over. This is going down to the wire but some Adam Reynolds magic will prove the difference.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 1
AAP writes: After an up and down start, South Sydney have won four of their past five matches including a 40-18 thumping of Gold Coast on the road last weekend. The Storm picked up its fifth win of the year with a come-from-behind victory over Manly, the fourth time they’ve scored in the final five minutes to claim a win this year. The Rabbitohs’ form means coach Michael Maguire has picked an unchanged line-up for the second straight week. Key: Melbourne’s defence. The Storm have conceded 13 more tries than Souths this season and will need to tighten up to avoid the Bunnies opening up a lead that even Craig Bellamy’s never-say-die players can’t reel in.