Storm reach tenth NRL Final after fast start

With a place in the NRL Grand Final up for grabs, the Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders faced off at Suncorp Stadium with Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart facing off once again in a preliminary final.

The game started at a lightning speed, and it took just five minutes for the opening score.

Josh Addo-Carr nearly scored after a sweeping move to the left, but was brought down by John Bateman.

On the very next tackle, Jahrome Hughes took the ball to the line, and popped the ball to Jessy Bromwich who crashed over.

Direct from the kick-off, Melbourne scored a second.

The ball was quickly shifted to Josh Addo-Carr on the third tackle, and the winger broke down the wing.

With just Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to beat, Addo-Carr passed back inside to Ryan Papenhuyzen who raced away to score.

The Storm’s fast start continued in the tenth minute.

A high kick from Hughes down the right-edge was dropped by Semi Valemei and bounced towards the touchline before flicking the ball back infield.

Hughes picked up the ball and released Suliasi Vunivalu.

With just a few metres to play with on the wing, he dummied to get past Jarrod Croker and stayed in the field of play with good footwork to beat Valemei in the corner for the third try in five minutes.

The Raiders were penalised for an escort by Croker which allowed Smith to convert from the tee and make it 18-0.

Canberra’s nightmare start looked to continue as Addo-Carr managed to ground the ball after Nick Cotric and Nicoll-Klokstad failed to clear Hughes’ kick.

Fortunately for the Raiders, Addo-Carr knocked on in his attempted grounding.

Cotric had yet another shocker as Papenhuyzen kicked ahead for himself, but couldn’t get there before the Raiders winger.

However, Cotric’s attempt to punch the ball missed and Justin Olam claimed the ball and dived onto the floor for the fourth try.

On the half hour mark, Canberra managed to get some possession close to the Melbourne line.

A chipped kick from George Williams was claimed by Nick Cotric, who then found his feet, and spun out of the tackle before slamming the ball down to pull a try back.

HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 24-6 Canberra Raiders

Despite a strong opening minute from the Raiders, multiple errors allowed the Storm to come up the other end of the field and force a goal-line drop-out.

After this neither side managed to get a serious hold of the ball with errors and penalties from both sides causing the game to become very stop-start as the hour mark came up.

Croker and Valemei combined to push the Raiders to within ten metres, and then win a penalty.

The Storm held firm though, and with 17 minutes remaining, managed to extend their lead further.

Hughes put up a high bomb towards Valemei, who once again failed to claim the ball in the contest, as Vunivalu tapped it back into the hands of Dale Finucane who did enough to beat the tackle and score.

A couple of minutes later, Nick Cotric broke down the left before kicking ahead for Jordan Rapana on the inside.

The ball bounce over the head of Rapana, Papenhuyzen and Cameron Smith, back into the arms of Cotric, who was then wrapped up by Smith and force the knock-on just inches from the line.

With eight minutes to go, the Raiders finally managed to cross on the right edge.

Rapana got to the outside of Olam, before flicking the offload to Cotric who dove over for his second.

The Storm managed to control the final minutes of the game and secured their spot in yet another Grand Final.

FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 30-10 Canberra Raiders


Squads


Melbourne Storm

Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Lee, Olam, Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, J. Bromwich, C. Smith, Welch, Kaufusi, K. Bromwich, Asofa-Solomona

Interchanges: B. Smith, Faasuamaleaui, Hynes, Finucane

Tries: J. Bromwich, Papenhuyzen, Vunivalu, Olam, Finucane

Goals: C. Smith (5/6)


Canberra Raiders

Nicoll-Klokstad, Valemei, Croker, Rapana, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Havili, Young, Bateman, Whitehead, Tapine

Interchanges: Starling, Soliola, Lui, Harawira-Naera

Tries: Cotric (2)

Goals: Croker (1/2)


Referee: A. Klein

Touch Judges: C. Butler, P. Gough

Video Referee: J. Maxwell


Image Source: @NRL (twitter)

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