PERTH - Canterbury have ended Melbourne's tumultuous week — and unbeaten start to the NRL season — with an impressive 40-12 comeback win over the Storm in Perth.
Melbourne captain Cameron Smith was a last-minute scratching at nib Stadium after his back seized up in the warm-up and the Storm were unable to overcome his absence despite racing to an early 10-0 lead.
Apart from missing Smith's leadership and attacking smarts, the Storm even conceded a rare differential penalty for not packing correctly into a scrum without their Test hooker.
It was the final insult following a turbulent five days for the Storm after their Monday night win over Newcastle was overshadowed by a broken neck to young Knights back-rower Alex McKinnon.
McKinnon, who was placed in an induced coma on Tuesday, remains in a critical but stable condition in a Melbourne hospital after undergoing emergency spinal surgery.
Storm prop Jordan McLean was granted permission by the NRL judiciary to play in Saturday night's match, with his dangerous throw charge to be heard next Wednesday after the matter was deferred out of respect for McKinnon.
Understood to be deeply distressed about his chief involvement in the three-man tackle gone wrong on McKinnon, McLean was offered counselling by NRL welfare officers during the week and didn't have the happiest of nights in Perth either.