Bizarre ref decision as Dragons down Storm

Steve Zemek
Smith was confused by the call. Pic: Getty

St George Illawarra have confirmed their status as NRL premiership favourites after a Euan Aitken double fired them to a 34-14 win over Melbourne.

The Dragons have racked up eight wins in the opening nine rounds of the 2018 season, Sunday's victory perhaps their most impressive against the premiers in front of 19,173 fans at Jubilee Oval.

It puts Paul McGregor's side at the head of the ladder as the only side on 16 points.

The Dragons scored four tries to Melbourne's three, Gareth Widdop's radar boot - he kicked nine from nine - blowing out the margin.

Aitken continued his compelling push for a NSW call-up after powering over Cameron Munster for the opening try before his four-pointer in the 65th minute killed off any hope of a Storm comeback.

What was supposed to be the game of the year at times became stilted following a series of bizarre refereeing decisions.

In one incident head referee Matt Cecchin ruled a knock-on against Dragons winger Nene MacDonald 20 metres out from his own line only for assistant whistleblower Chris Butler to over-rule and give the home side the play-the-ball.

The Storm's frustrations were compounded when Josh-Addo-Carr was denied a try in head-scratching circumstances.

The star Melbourne winger crossed for what appeared to be his double, only for the play to be called back because of a penalty against the Dragons in the play-the-ball.

Storm skipper Cameron Smith queried why play wasn't allowed to go on while league great Braith Anasta called it "diabolical" and "one of the worst calls I've ever seen in a game" on the Fox League broadcast.

To rub salt into the Storm's wounds, another Widdop penalty gave the Dragons a 12-4 advantage at the break and they took the match by the scruff of the neck from there.

Just after halftime Smith was hit in the groin in the play-the-ball, opening up a gap in the Storm defensive line to allow Cameron McInnes to dive over.

And when Tim Lafai produced a spectacular put down in the left corner in the 47th minutes, the Dragons were suddenly up 24-4.

Addo-Carr eventually got his second - his fourth two-try haul in as many games - to give the Storm a sniff at 24-8 with 16 minutes remaining.

But Aitken's second put the nail in the Storm's coffin with Addo-Carr's hat-trick try with five minutes remaining providing little consolation.