Smith guides Storm to tight win over Dragons

Jahrome Hughes of the Storm Is tackled during the round 16 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Melbourne Storm at WIN Stadium. Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Ladder leaders Melbourne have extended their NRL winning streak to seven after Cameron Smith led his side to a dour 16-14 victory over St George Illawarra.

With both sides hit hard by the representative drain, Smith - playing his 399th first-grade game - guided his side around WIN Stadium on Thursday with his kicking game and control.

In wet and windy conditions, the game went down to the wire and a Smith penalty goal with five minutes remaining gave his side the victory, provisionally extending their lead at the top of the ladder to eight points.

Dragons back-rower Jacob Host was penalised when he escorted Jahrome Hughes off the ball, allowing Smith to kick the winning two points.

The Storm were missing 627 NRL games worth of talent with six players away with Queensland and NSW: Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers, Dale Finucane, Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster and Christian Welch.

But the Dragons had 1224 games missing with Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Paul Vaughan on Origin duty and James Graham (ankle) and Gareth Widdop (shoulder) recovering from injury.

Queensland coach Kevin Walter broke Maroons camp on Thursday night to fly to Wollongong to present his son Billy, who made his debut for the Storm at five-eighth, with his jumper.

After the Storm led 8-6 at the break, the Dragons got themselves on level pegging via a Jai Field penalty goal.

The Storm were soon back in front after they went 60 metres with Nelson Asofa-Solomona producing a slick flick pass in traffic to put Jahrome Hughes underneath the black dot.

When Mikaele Ravalawa ran through Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, he set up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes remaining and scores locked at 14-14.

But the Storm found a way to win as Craig Bellamy recorded his 300th NRL victory, becoming the fourth coach behind Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens and Brian Smith to achieve the feat.

Earlier, Jeremy Latimore crossed for his first try of the year to give the Dragons a surprise 6-0 lead.

The Storm were back on top at 8-6 by halftime after Joe Stimson ran past Tim Lafai and spun over the line.

But they should have led by more after winning the first-half penalty count 7-2 and having 24 shots inside the opposition 20 metre zone compared to the Dragons' six.

Meanwhile, Field will come under scrutiny from the match review committee for a crusher tackle on Stimson.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy heaped praise on Smith, calling his 400th game next week against Cronulla as the biggest match in the club's history outside of finals games.

"It's a huge honour for Cameron and it's a huge honour for our club," Bellamy said. "Our game is 120-years-old and Cameron's going to be the first guy to do this. I think it's going to be a long time before anyone else does it. It's a great honour for the club for Cameron to play all those games at our club. Hopefully we can play to honour him."

While Dragons coach Paul McGregor wouldn't comment on the game-deciding penalty on Host, he said he would be interested if NRL head of football Graham Annesley addresses the incident in his weekly press conference on Monday.

"It was very brave," McGregor said. "I'm very proud of the players in the sheds with their performance. Especially my guys with nine players out and on the end of a possession rate that wasn't going their way.

"I thought they found a lot in the second half in different stages. It's a small win within a loss."