Melbourne Storm thump Cronulla Sharks, Cameron Smith hits 400 NRL games

Melbourne have delivered a fitting celebration for skipper Cameron Smith's 400-game milestone with a thumping 40-16 NRL win over Cronulla at AAMI Park.

The competition leaders survived a second-half stumble on Saturday night when the Sharks fought back to within two points before the Storm piled on a further four tries to secure victory.

It was sweet revenge as the Sharks were the last team to beat Melbourne in round eight.

The party started early, with a light show and tributes from former teammates Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater, before Smith - wearing custom-made gold boots - ran on to the field.

And then the 22,000-strong crowd gathered on the field after the match as the captain was presented with a crystal cut football.

Smith said it felt like running out for a final or a State of Origin rather than a regular round match.

"It's a good feeling now that it's done and particularly that we had a win," Smith said.

"It was a really enjoyable week and tonight was unlike anything else."

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said while the performance wasn't perfect he felt they did the occasion justice.

"It's been a really good week to be a part of and all of those guys can say they played with Cameron Smith the night he played 400 games," Bellamy said.

Some players who were barely in school when Smith started were key to the win, with halfback Brodie Croft swinging momentum back to the Storm with a jinking run to touch down.

Brandon Smith, the heir in waiting to the skipper, collected a double while Cameron Munster was also busy after backing up from Origin and scored the opening try off a Jahrome Hughes grubber.

Props Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich were huge, particularly in the first half as Melbourne raced to an 18-4 lead.

Cronulla's cause wasn't helped with Josh Dugan limping off from fullback with a hamstring injury which will see him re-join the casualty ward.

But Melbourne looked like they'd popped the cork too early, with the Sharks on the hunt early in the second stanza.

Tries to Kurt Capewell and Shaun Johnson in four minutes pulled the visitors back to trail only 18-16.

Some stern words from Smith got his troops back on track and they hit back with two quick tries to regain control before another two ensured the Smith's record night ended in style.

Sharks coach John Morris said he felt his team performed better than the scoreline suggested.

He said a Sosaia Feki try in the second half that was disallowed due to a forward pass may have changed the outcome.

"It was a big call there, it looked line ball and that would have put us in front," Morris said.

"We've come down here with a busted team and 700 games experience out in Graham, Moylan and Gallen and in the 60th minute we could have been in front.

"But from there it took a turn for the worst."