With the winner being awarded a week off, and a place in the preliminary finals, the Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels went face-to-face at Suncorp Stadium.
Just 90 seconds into the game, a high kick from Mitchell Moses was tapped back into play by Jahrome Hughes and into the hands of Nathan Brown who dropped over the line for the score.
In the 10th minute, Maika Sivo picked up a knee injury which forced the Fijian off the field.
Five minutes later, Josh Addo-Carr broke down the left wing and kicked back inside for Kenny Bromwich to chase.
This second-rower looked offside but the bunker suggested otherwise, but Bromwich couldn’t claim the ball and the Eels escaped.
Melbourne were putting serious pressure on the Eels as they 20th minute approached, but they couldn’t get through the line.
A knock on from Addo-Carr who was working on the right side, was picked up by Reed Mahoney.
Mahoney switched the ball to the wing where Addo-Carr should have been and Michael Jennings and Blake Ferguson combined to push down the right.
With Ferguson being closed down by Justin Olam, the winger offloaded back inside to Clint Gutherson who crossed for a try.
On the half-hour mark, Melbourne finally picked up some points.
A sweeping play from the left over to the right, allowed Brenko Lee to create space on the outside for Suliasi Vunivalu to run around the back on the in-goal and dive over to score.
In the very next set for the Storm, they levelled up.
An offload from Kenny Bromwich found Justin Olam, and the centre accelerated up the middle of the park before passing to Ryan Papenhuyzen who finished off the move.
HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 12-12 Parramatta Eels
Just over two minutes into the second half, Kenny Bromwich was involved in yet another Melbourne try.
He broke through the line after a short pass from Cameron Munster, then linked up with Papenhuyzen who released Josh Addo-Carr to score in the corner.
The Storm thought they’d scored again just three minutes later as Vunivalu powered over on the right edge, but after attempted to step back on the inside, stood on the touchline.
On the 50th minute, following some ill-discipline from Melbourne, the Eels worked themselves inside the 10-metre line.
A kick in behind from Mahoney looked rushed, but it was weighted perfectly for Blake Ferguson to score.
The back-and-forth continued, and Cameron Munster put the ball on a plate for Jesse Bromwich to walk through the Parramatta line and slide over untouched.
The Storm lead was extended further just before the hour mark, as they upped the intensity.
The faster play-the-balls were catching Parramatta on the back foot, and Brenko Lee took advantage as he decided not to pass outside, and beat three Eels tackles to slam the ball down.
The game looked all but wrapped up when Cameron Munster picked up a loose ball and accelerated through the forwards, and passed back inside Papenhuyzen to race to the corner and score.
In the build up to the try, Ferguson caught his leg under a Melbourne player and had to be carried off the field with 16 minutes to go, with the Eels now having lost both wingers.
After a penalty against Kenny Bromwich, the Eels attacked from just 20-metres out, and looked to get back into the game.
They did exactly that when the ball found Shaun Lane and the 6 foot 5 second rower bust through a gap and scored.
With ten minutes left, Cameron Munster looked to have picked up a reoccurrence of his knee injury and left the field.
With score at 36-24 with five minutes to go, the Storm looked to be on their way to victory, and managed to hold out a handful of Parramatta chances as time ticked by.
FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 36-24 Parramatta Eels
Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Lee, Olam, Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, J. Bromwich, C. Smith, Welch, Kaufusi, K. Bromwich, Asofoa-Solomona
Interchanges: B. Smith, Faasuamaleaui, Hynes, Lewis
Tries: Vunivalu, Papenhuyzen (2), Addo-Carr, J. Bromwich, Lee
Goals: C. Smith (6/6)
Gutherson, Sivo, Jennings, Blake, Ferguson, Brown, Moses, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Matterson, Brown
Interchanges: Smith, Davey, Evans, Niukore
Tries: Brown, Gutherson, Ferguson, Lane
Goals: Moses (4/4)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: D. Munro, P. Gough
Video Referee: S. Chiddy
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)