In a dogged contest at AAMI Park, it was the Melbourne Storm who prevailed over the South Sydney Rabbitohs courtesy of a late Cameron Munster field goal.
Having never won at AAMI Park nor in Melbourne in 15 games, it was an uphill battle from the start for the Rabbitohs.
Finals footy always goes up a gear and this game was no different; both teams giving it their all in a physical contest.
Souths would draw first blood as a cross-field kick was spilled by Josh Addo-Carr and Dane Gagai was there to pounce and score.
Adam Reynolds missed that conversion but would atone for it soon after, slotting a penalty goal to put the Bunnies up 6-0.
An overlap then gave the Storm their chance to score and they took it.
Swift hands eventually saw centre Curtis Scott score for the Storm with Smith converting, locking scores up at 6-apiece.
Souths captain Greg Inglis was flattened by a Suliasi Vunivalu hit leaving him with sore ribs and a possible non-return.
He would return, however, going to on to score twice.
Both sides went tit-for-tat, as the scoreboard went back and forth.
Suliasi Vunivalu opened his finals account after Billy Slater evaded a defender and popped a basketball-like pass to the winger.
Putting the Storm up 10-8, the Bunnies responded with a try of their own.
Running to the line, Robert Jennings managed to keep his arm off the ground and pop an offload to Inglis for his first try.
A spectacular try then ensued for the Storm on the stroke of half-time.
The much maligned Brodie Croft stood up when it mattered, busting through the Souths defence to make a break.
With the Souths line up and a fullback ahead of him, Croft kicked to the right wing with a flying Fijian in Vunivalu getting to the ball first and scoring.
The second half could not have started worse for the Bunnies; George Burgess was sin-binned for blocking a runner in the lead-up to a try.
That did not phase Souths, however, who still managed to score with a man down and level things up.
Reynolds put in another cross-field kick and the ball was plucked out of the air by Inglis who scored despite steely resolve from Slater.
The Bunnies would then score another try; Robert Jennings getting one of his own when he scored in the left corner.
Not to be denied, though, the Storm hit back with two straight tries of their own, both to Cheyse Blair.
Then, with someone needing to step up, it was Munster who etched his name into finals folklore.
With everyone expecting Cameron Smith to step up, Munster coolly waited in the wings, slotting the field goal to give the Storm a win and a week off.
Munster’s overall performance drew praise from captain Smith.
“He had some really crucial plays for us – a couple of half line-breaks and setting guys up,” Smith said.
“He’s becoming more and more confident within himself to do that.
“Each time I see him come back from a representative game, he’s more confident about his ability and what he can produce on the field.”
Souths coach Anthony Seibold says his side has nothing to turn around as you usually win when you score 28 points in a game.
“We don’t need to turn it around, we know what we need to do. We build pressure with effort, that’s our game model that’s served us well all year,” Seibold said.
“We defended for 10 minutes there with 12 men, when George [Burgess] got sent to the sin-bin, and that really solidified our effort.
“We came through the other side so that’s another good take-away for us. But normally when you score 28 points you expect to win a game of footy and we didn’t.”
Player of the Game:
3. Greg Inglis
2. Cameron Munster
- Brodie Croft