The Melbourne Storm continued their outstanding record in Queensland and finals matches against the Parramatta Eels to record a dominant victory 36-24.
History was all in favour of the Storm in this game and they certainly delivered to make their fourth preliminary final in the past five years
Surprisingly, it was the Storm who uncharacteristically put themselves under pressure very early on with a Cameron Smith kick being charged down.
It was Eels back-rower Shaun Lane who applied the pressure on Smith to charge down the kick.
Mitchell Moses showed his pinpoint kicking accuracy when his crossfield kick landed right on the goal-line.
Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes jumped up to retrieve the ball but knocked on.
Nathan Brown who was following through picked up the loose ball to score underneath the post and register his first try of the year with only two minutes on the clock.
Moses kicked the conversion from in front and the Eels lead by a converted try.
The Eels would then suffer a blow when Fijian flyer Maika Sivo left the field and failed to return with an MCL strain.
The ensuing ten minutes was played at a high intensity and was very physical.
Both teams, however, were guilty of giving away field position and possession through penalties and set re-starts.
The Eels continued their early dominance with another try after a quarter of the match had passed.
The Storm knocked on and the Eels counterattacked as the ball was spread wide to Michael Jennings.
Jennings threw a clever flick pass to Blake Ferguson to find space on the flank.
As all good fullbacks do, Clinton Gutherson was supporting on the inside.
Ferguson drew his man, feigned the initial pass and found captain Gutherson who ran a short distance to score.
Moses again converted and the Eels were out by two converted tries more than halfway through the first half.
To stop the Eels momentum. the Storm needed to be the next to score and with ten minutes remaining before the break they did just that.
A Ryan Papenhuyzen break to get the ball into the Eels attacking zone proved vital.
This led to a slick right-hand side shift by the Storm and Brenko Lee was able to put Suliasi Vunivalu over untouched.
Cameron Smith kicked the easy conversion to bridge the gap back to six points.
A quickfire double put the Storm right back in the match to level things up.
From inside their own half and after two off-loads, Justin Olam found open space.
With Papenhuyzen supporting on the inside, Olam drew in Gutherson and the flying Storm fullback sprinted twenty metres to score.
Smith again slotted the easy conversion to tie the game up at 12-all and that was the score at the break.
The second half started exactly like the first half ended.
Before people could regain their seat at Suncorp Stadium, the Storm scored via Josh Ado-Carr and took the lead for the first time of the match.
The next playoff the restart, great leadup work from Cameron Munster found Kenny Bromwich who made a clean break.
Bromwich was able to get the ball to Papenhuyzen for the fullback to set up his winger.
He threw a great long ball to find Addo-Carr on the wing who raced through to score his eighth straight try at Suncorp Stadium.
Smith converted from out wide for the Storm to lead for the first time in the match 18-12.
Needing a spark, it was great vision by Reed Mahoney the Eels evened the game up.
Early in the tackle count, Mahoney kicked towards the touchline to find only Eels players being close to the ball.
Ferguson was able to gain possession and ground the ball inside the touch-in-goal line.
Moses converted from the touchline and the scores were level.
That momentum was quickly snuffed out when Munster again showed his class with a great short ball to put Jesse Bromwich into a huge hole to score from short range.
The Kiwi enforcer also registered his first try of the year.
The Melbourne men were now well on top and the score blew out even more only three minutes later.
A slick right hand play with plenty of players in motion this had the defenders backpedalling.
Brenko Lee had scored their second try within only a matter of minutes.
After an offload by Papenhuyzen at speed, Lee forced his way over.
Smith was on fire with the boot and slotted the conversion from out wide for the lead to go out to two converted tries.
Papenhuyzen was putting on a man-of-the-match performance and he again showed great support from a Storm break.
From a knockdown by a Parramatta player, Munster was able to run straight through the middle of the Eels defenders.
Papenhyzen was then able to beat Waqa Blake to score in the corner.
Smith had the ball on a string tonight and from the touchline and converted yet again.
Already without Sivo, the Eels would also lose Ferguson who had to succumb to an
The Eels to have any hope of staying in the contest needed to record the next four-pointer.
A penalty to the Eels deep in the Storm territory the ball was shifted to the left with speed.
Hughes tried to attempt the tackle on Shaun Lane but he proved too strong to run ten metres to score.
Moses kicked the conversion from twenty metres in from touch to have the Eels trailing by twelve points.
The remaining time in the match saw no change to the score and the Storm won their 19th game in a row north of the border in their 50th finals match.
The Storm were able to give Bellamy a victory on his birthday but it could be soared with a knee injury to Munster.
Although Arthur praised his Eels side for some of their work, he also criticised their dumb plays.
“It was tough and we showed plenty of character. It was brave and it was just dumb in key moments and critical moments,” he said.
“You can’t do that against the Melbourne Storm. They iced their opportunities, but we need to learn from that.
“The pleasing thing is that we didn’t go away.
We kept fighting and having some blokes out of position probably hurt us a bit, but credit to them because they did the best they could.”
Despite his injury, Munster says he will do whatever it takes to be fit for the grand final qualifier in two weeks time.
“I didn’t re-injure the spot. It is a bit sore,” said Munster.
“I just got a bit of a knee clash and it is a bit swollen,” Munster said after the game.
“I’ll get scans tomorrow and do everything I can with the physios to make sure I am right for the prelim [final].”
NRL News Player of the Game
3 – Ryan Papenhuyzen
2 – Cameron Munster
1 – Clinton Gutherson