Storm power past Parramatta, Raiders survive scare against Sharks

By Sports Desk October 03, 2020

Melbourne Storm marked their 50th NRL finals match with an impressive 36-24 defeat of Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium.

With a 61 per cent win rate from their previous 49 such games, Melbourne were firm favourites to triumph on Saturday as they became the first team to reach a half-century of finals games in the NRL era.

They were made to work by the Eels, though, the visitors scoring two tries in the first 22 minutes through Nathan Brown and Clint Gutherson.

Storm had 61 per cent of the ball in the first half but did not get points on the board until the half-hour mark, when Suliasi Vunivalu went over.

The excellent Ryan Papenhuyzen struck before the interval to level the scores at 12-12, before Josh Addo-Carr's try put them ahead.

Blake Ferguson made it 18 each, touching down from a clever Reed Mahoney kick, but Melbourne promptly seized control as Jesse Bromwich, Brenko Lee and Papenhuyzen all scored in the space of seven minutes to secure a sixth-straight preliminary final.

Shaun Lane got a late consolation as each side now look for good news on the injury front, with Cameron Munster hurting his right knee and the Eels, who face an elimination game next week, losing Ferguson and Maika Sivo.

Canberra Raiders survived a real scare against Cronulla Sharks before surging back to win 32-20 and avoid a shock elimination.

Canberra were firm favourites after dispatching the Sharks 38-28 a week ago but were second best in the first 40 minutes.

The Sharks, the first team in 25 years to reach the finals without a win over a top-eight opponent, were 14-10 to the good at half-time and could have had a more comfortable lead.

Tries from Ronaldo Mulitano and Blayke Brailey, combined with two penalties and a conversion from the boot of Chad Townsend, had Cronulla in a commanding position only for George Williams to intercept and sprint for the line with just two minutes of the half left.

Apparently galvanised, the Raiders assumed control in the second half, Jack Wighton scoring twice in three minutes before further tries from Williams and Elliott Whitehead, whose earlier fumble had allowed Brailey to touch down, ended the contest and set up a rematch with last year's Grand Final victors Sydney Roosters next week.

Sione Katoa's late interception and 90-metre sprint for the line reduced the deficit, but the Sharks' season is over.

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