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.

Related items

  • Smith to Titans? Meninga dismisses Gold Coast speculation Smith to Titans? Meninga dismisses Gold Coast speculation

    Melbourne Storm great Cameron Smith will not play for Gold Coast Titans in the 2021 NRL season, according to Mal Meninga.

    It remains to seen what the future holds for Smith, who is yet to publicly confirm his plans after guiding the Storm to premiership last year.

    Out of contract following 18 years in Melbourne, Smith reportedly relocated to Queensland at the end of the season and the 37-year-old has been linked with the Titans as well as Brisbane Broncos.

    With speculation mounting over Smith's status, his former State of Origin and Australia head coach Meninga – now head of performance and culture with the Titans – insisted the ex-Kangaroos skipper will not be moving to Gold Coast.

    "I've not talked to Cameron. He's the hardest bloke to get hold of in the world," said Meninga.

    "I've not spoken to him – not has anyone from the club.

    "Everyone assumes he's coming to the Titans. I haven't talked to him, he's not on the radar.

    "You should ask Kevvie [Broncos head coach Kevin Walters] about Cameron so I don't have to answer these questions anymore."

    Broncos coach Walters could be an interested party were Smith to delay his retirement plans, but Meninga rubbished reports that emerged last week linking him with the Titans.

    Meninga told the Courier Mail: "I don't have any idea what Cam is doing. I don't know if he's retiring.

    "I'm in the dark like everyone else. But I know he won't be at the Titans."

  • Folau discussions have ceased, say St George Illawarra Dragons Folau discussions have ceased, say St George Illawarra Dragons

    Israel Folau is no longer wanted by St George Illawarra Dragons after the NRL club confirmed it had ceased discussions to sign the former Australia international.

    Folau, whose Rugby Australia contract was terminated in 2019 for a "high-level breach" after the 31-year-old posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram, plies his trade with Super League outfit Catalans Dragons.

    But St George Illawarra had been looking to lure him back to his home country, with the club having approached the NRL over the matter.

    However, a brief statement released by the club on Wednesday revealed the chase was now at an end.

    "While the Dragons did enquire about signing Folau, the club can confirm that such discussions have now ceased," it read.

    Folau's move to Catalans in January last year prompted widespread criticism, with head coach Steve McNamara confessing: "We knew it would be controversial."

     

  • Tuivasa-Sheck to switch codes in bid to make All Blacks World Cup squad Tuivasa-Sheck to switch codes in bid to make All Blacks World Cup squad

    New Zealand Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will switch codes at the end of the 2021 NRL season with the aim of playing for the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup.

    Talismanic full-back Tuivasa-Sheck, 27, has been granted an early release from his Warriors contract to try and force his way into the New Zealand squad for the 2023 showpiece in France.

    The 2018 Dally M Player of the Year and two-time Dally M Fullback of the Year expressed gratitude to the Warriors for allowing him to move to the 15-man format.

    "This will be my last year with the club and yes, I will be moving to NZ rugby next year," Tuivasa-Sheck said during a press conference on Saturday.

    "The club has been supportive in the request and giving me the option to explore.

    "Rugby [union] has been the game I've grown up playing. It's always been there in the background. It's always been there, it's no secret. 

    "To do it now in a time like this and have the club's support, that's why I chose it now. But rugby is down the line and all that stuff will happen later in the year.

    "2021 is my focus, I'm excited about this year and so should the Warriors and NRL fans be.

    "There's still a lot of goals I'm chasing [in league] and that's what I'm trying to do this year with the club. We've got a great group here and coaching staff to do something special this year."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.