Melbourne Storm outclassed Parramatta Eels to win 32-0 at AAMI Park and move within one match of a fourth straight NRL Grand Final appearance.

Josh Addo-Carr scored two of the home side's five first-half tries in a blistering start that set up a preliminary final date with Sydney Roosters, the team that beat them in last year's decider.

Cameron Smith was sent to the sin bin late in the opening 40 minutes for slapping Reed Mahoney but nothing could keep the Storm from issuing a convincing response to last weekend's surprise 12-10 loss to Canberra Raiders.

The Eels, high on confidence following an extraordinary 58-0 humbling of the Brisbane Broncos, were starved of possession against a hardened finals force as their season to came to a bitter end.

Addo-Carr needed just five minutes to set the tone, the winger racing 60 metres as he turned multiple chasers inside out to open the scoring.

Maika Sivo took out his frustration with a bone-rattling shoulder charge on Ryan Papenhuyzen but the Storm were hardly intimidated.

Suliasi Vunivalu crossed to double the margin before Cameron Munster chased down a clever Smith kick to give Craig Bellamy's men 12 points in 16 minutes.

Captain Smith's failure to convert all three tries did little to halt Melbourne's momentum as Vunivalu brilliantly knocked a kick back into play to gift Jahrome Hughes a straightforward score.

The minor premiers were running rampant and, courtesy of Addo-Carr, had gone 22-0 ahead by the time Smith was sin-binned in the 29th minute.

Parramatta were more competitive after half-time, but a string of errors and a clash of heads between team-mates Marata Niukore and Tepai Moeroa summed up their performance.

Papenhuyzen rubbed salt into the Eels' wounds by somersaulting over in the right corner and the full-back rounded out the scoring, making the conversion after Nelson Asofa-Solomona crossed in the dying moments.

Cameron Murray scored key tries late in each half as South Sydney Rabbitohs overcame a heroic effort from Manly Sea Eagles to triumph 34-26 at ANZ Stadium and reach the NRL preliminary finals for a second successive year.

Manly have exceeded all expectations under Des Hasler this year and could be hugely proud of their performance in a pulsating and bruising semi-final featuring multiple swings in momentum.

Yet it was the Rabbitohs who ultimately prevailed as John Sutton and Murray crossed inside the final 13 minutes with Jake Trbojevic in the sin bin for Manly.

The Sea Eagles also saw Brad Parker yellow-carded in a frantic second half, while the hosts were hampered by the loss of three players - Alex Johnston, Adam Doueihi and Sam Burgess - to head injuries.

Souths are likely to be particularly concerned over the availability of Johnston as they prepare to face Canberra Raiders for a place in the Grand Final, after the wing came off worse in a sickening clash of heads with team-mate Doueihi as Jack Gosiewski crossed to put Manly ahead for a third time.

Prior to that, Moses Suli had played a starring role, producing powerful hand-offs to assist one try and score another as the Sea Eagles erased a 10-0 deficit to move into the box seat. 

The Bunnies had Cody Walker sin-binned for striking Gosiewski in the first period, which ended with them leading 18-16 courtesy of Murray's first try in the 40th minute.

Both regular-season meetings between these sides had been decided by a solitary point and this contest remained similarly tight after the interval.

Suli's score put Manly back in front, but Adam Reynolds pulled the Bunnies level with a penalty after Parker was yellow-carded for a cynical trip and Souths took advantage when Manly were reduced to 12 men for a second time, Trbojevic having pulled Dane Gagai back off the ball.

Shane Flanagan can return to the NRL next year, but the former Cronulla Sharks coach is only eligible to be an assistant in 2020 and 2021.

Flanagan was suspended by the NRL for a year in late 2013 after an investigation into the Sharks' supplements program.

The 53-year-old was then deregistered in December last year after it was found he had violated terms of his initial ban.

However, Flanagan can make his return next year, the NRL announced in a statement on Friday.

"I have spoken to Shane at length and he has expressed significant remorse and accepted responsibility for his past actions and the detrimental impact they have had on the game," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"We have created a pathway for Shane to return to the coaching ranks. Today's decision gives Shane an opportunity to be registered in the NRL.

"This is not a set and forget approach. Shane and any future club who employs him has numerous conditions which they must comply with and the integrity unit will continue to monitor his conduct over the next two seasons."

Flanagan, who led the Sharks to the 2016 premiership, was pleased with the NRL's decision.

"Today I met with the NRL and I both respect and accept the course of action they have taken," he said.

"I look forward to returning to the coaching ranks, firstly as an assistant coach and hopefully one day a head coach again."

The NRL told Flanagan no consideration would be given to "expediting his return to a head coaching role" beyond its decision on Friday.

Hull Kingston Rovers have continued their squad overhaul for the 2020 season by signing Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

The former New Zealand international moves to the Super League club from Newcastle Knights, who he joined in 2017 after a decade at Sydney Roosters.

Kenny-Dowall twice won the Four Nations title with the Kiwis and was part of the Roosters team that triumphed in the 2013 NRL Grand Final.

"I know that the club is steeped in history and I'm really looking forward to joining the Rovers," the 31-year-old told Hull KR's official website after signing a two-year deal.

"I'm excited to be experiencing a new competition over in England after so long in the NRL.

"I love the way the Super League is played and, for myself, it's a new challenge to move out of my comfort zone of the NRL and step into a different arena and test myself on the other side of the world.

"I've always wanted to tick that box in my career and I'm very grateful to Hull KR for giving me that opportunity."

Rovers have been busy since securing their Super League status for another year; Kenny-Dowall is the third new recruit by head coach Tony Smith, following on from the additions of Dean Hadley and Jez Litten.

"It is fantastic that the club has been able to bring someone over with Shaun's experience - it is important for us to maintain those high standards, in terms of people with experience, with what they can bring to the table," Smith said.

"The 2020 squad is largely going to be a young and enthusiastic side. We have lost a couple of experienced players, and it’s vital that we regain that mix. We'll be maintaining those high standards by bringing in somebody of Shaun's calibre."

Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs will each have a second opportunity to reach the NRL's preliminary finals in this week's semi-finals.

The Storm finished the regular season top of the ladder but were upset at home by Canberra Raiders in last week's qualifying finals.

The Rabbitohs likewise came up short as they were beaten by rivals Sydney Roosters, who advanced to the final four.

Melbourne must overcome Parramatta Eels, who enjoyed an outstanding 58-0 win over Brisbane Broncos in the elimination finals.

Manly Sea Eagles, having come past Cronulla Sharks, are next for the Rabbitohs.

We take a look at the key Opta facts behind the two huge fixtures in the NRL Finals this week.


Friday

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles

- The past six NRL matches between the Rabbitohs and the Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium have seen each team pick up three wins, although the most recent three were all won by South Sydney.

- Manly have conceded 31 penalties in the NRL this season for being offside inside the opposition 10-metre zone, the joint-most of any team (also Newcastle Knights).

- The Rabbitohs' Damien Cook has gained more metres (1,862) scooting out of dummy-half than any other player this term, 320 more than the next best (Cameron Smith – 1,542).


Saturday

Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels

- The Storm have won seven of their past nine NRL matches against the Eels (L2), including the most recent three in succession. They have not won more consecutive matches against Parramatta since a four-match span across 2006 and 2007.

- The Eels have made the most offloads (343) of any team in the NRL this year, 125 more than Melbourne (218).

- Storm great Cameron Smith has kicked the most goals (102) of any player in NRL 2019. This has been the first NRL season of his 18-year career in which he has kicked 100 or more goals.

Mitch Moses sparkled as Parramatta Eels pummelled sorry Brisbane Broncos in a record-breaking 58-0 thrashing to set up an NRL finals showdown with Melbourne Storm.

The Broncos were humiliated at a raucous Bankwest Stadium on Sunday, keeping their season alive with an 11-try thumping.

Parramatta's huge margin of victory was the biggest in finals history and their most emphatic over Brisbane, sending a warning to minor premiers the Storm - their opponents in the second week of the finals at AAMI Park next Sunday.

The magnificent Moses claimed a 20-point haul - including a try in each half - as the free-flowing Eels ran riot, with Brisbane having no answer to their expansive brand of rugby.

Anthony Seibold's side were blown away, with Michael Jennings, Moses and Blake Ferguson touching down in the opening 19 minutes.

Maika Sivo claimed a double either side of half-time after a Shaun Lane four-pointer and the Eels showed no mercy, Dylan Brown also scoring twice and Tepai Moeroa claiming his first of the season.

Moses - on target with six conversions - had his brace eight minutes from time and Daniel Alvaro finished in the last minute, with Manu Ma'u adding the extras as the Eels made a big statement.

John Bateman stunned Melbourne Storm with a decisive late try as Canberra Raiders reached the NRL preliminary finals with a dramatic 12-10 win, while Manly Sea Eagles eliminated Cronulla Sharks.

The Raiders were rocked when centre Joseph Leilua was struck in the left eye by a particle from a firework – let off as part of the pre-match entertainment – as he ran onto the pitch.

Bailey Simonsson, Leilua's last-minute replacement, grasped his unexpected opportunity by putting the Raiders in front with a third-minute try in the corner at AAMI Park on Saturday.

Jarrod Croker added the extras and a penalty from Cameron Smith on the stroke of half-time was all the minor premiers could muster after Leilua was cleared to enter the fray, replacing Nick Cotric when he took a boot to the face.

The Storm were level early in the second half when Suliasi Vunivalu touched down after rising above Simonsson to grab a kick from Jahrome Hughes and Smith's second penalty put them in front.

Smith slotted over from the tee again three minutes later and Jordan Rapana – who had a try disallowed during a first half in which Croker missed two penalties – was put on report for a lifting tackle on Cameron Munster.

Craig Bellamy's men looked set to see it out but there was a late twist as Josh Addo-Carr spilled the ball and Leilua scooped it up before setting up Bateman, who crossed after taking a clever pass and Croker converted.

The Storm were furious when Vunivalu was wrongly adjudged to have stepped on the touchline with time running out and looked shell-shocked as Canberra celebrated setting up a preliminary final at GIO Stadium.

Melbourne will face either Parramatta Eels or Brisbane Broncos in a knockout clash next weekend, while Manly will lock horns with South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday after a 28-16 defeat of Cronulla.

Manly were without a host of key men but stayed alive and ended Sharks captain Paul Gallen's illustrious career as Apisai Koroisau, Moses Suli, Brad Parker, Addin Fonua-Blake and Brendan Elliot all crossed.

There was drama before the start of the NRL Finals showdown between Canberra Raiders and Melbourne Storm when Joseph Leilua was struck in the left eye by a particle of a firework.

Leilua returned to the changing room for treatment at AAMI Park after suffering a freak injury moments before kick-off on Saturday.

The centre was running through an arch which was firing out steam and sparklers when the damage was done.

Leilua was unable to start the match and his late replacement, Bailey Simonsson, scored the opening try after only three minutes.

Former Newcastle Knights man Leilua recovered to join the action midway through the first half, replacing Nick Cotric, with Canberra leading 6-2 at the break.

Reigning NRL champions Sydney Roosters are one win away from returning to the Grand Final after humiliating rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs with an emphatic 30-6 victory.

The Roosters suffered a 16-10 defeat against the Bunnies at ANZ Stadium in the last week of the regular season, but it was a very different story at the SCG on Friday.

Trent Robinson's men ran riot and will now enjoy a week off ahead of their preliminary final, while the Rabbitohs must regroup ahead of a semi-final against Manly Sea Eagles or Cronulla Sharks.

Joseph Manu's third-minute score set the tone for a dominant first-half showing from the Roosters, who soon pulled further ahead with four-pointers from Mitchell Aubusson, Boyd Cordner and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

The pick of the first-half tries was still to come as a slick move culminated in Brett Morris producing a magnificent offload to put James Tedesco over.

Latrell Mitchell kicked three goals before the interval and the centre crossed the whitewash in the second period following excellent work from Luke Keary, who provided an assist after his 40-20 kick had set up a great attacking platform.

The Bunnies, who welcomed back George Burgess from his nine-week suspension for eye gouging, at least avoided the indignity of being kept scoreless when Adam Reynolds danced over for a 64th-minute try he also converted.

However, the Roosters had easily wrapped up victory by that stage and look as though they will take some stopping as they aim to defend their crown.

Brett Morris is set to make a landmark appearance as the NRL Finals kick-off with a heavyweight clash between Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Friday's match between the sides, who finished second and third respectively in the regular season, will be the first Finals game to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground since the 1983 Grand Final.

Parramatta Eels won on that occasion and they round off the first round of Finals fixtures against the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday.

Minor premiers Melbourne Storm are in action on Saturday, taking on Canberra Raiders, before Manly Sea Eagles host Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

Here, we take a look at the best Opta facts for the first round of Finals matches.

Friday

Sydney Roosters (17-7) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (16-8)

- Defending premiers Roosters - who beat the Storm in last season's grand final - have won their past two games against the Rabbitohs, though they have not won three or more in succession against their city rivals since 1988.

- Roosters' Morris is set to play in his 250th NRL fixture. The 33-year-old has not scored a try against the Rabbitohs since 2015.

Saturday 

Melbourne Storm (20-4) v Canberra Raiders (15-9)

- After cruising to the minor premiers title, Melbourne host the Raiders, who have won four of their past eight away matches against the Storm, including a 22-18 victory in their last meeting.

- Suliasi Vunivalu could be the Storm's biggest weapon, with the winger having scored six tries in his last four NRL appearances against the Raiders.

Manly Sea Eagles (14-10) v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (12-12)

- The Sea Eagles have won 16 of their past 18 games against the Sharks, including the three most recent fixtures.

- Dylan Walker will be relishing this match, having crossed for a try in each of his previous three NRL meetings with Cronulla.

Sunday

Parramatta Eels (14-10) v Brisbane Broncos (11-12)

- Each of the past four NRL Finals matches played between the Eels and the Broncos have been won by the home side on the day.

- Matt Gillett of the Broncos is set to play his 200th NRL match, while the Eels' Reed Mahoney has made 1,150 tackles in 2019 - more than any other player.

Canberra Raiders forward Hudson Young has been handed an eight-game ban after being found guilty of eye-gouging.

Young attended an NRL judiciary hearing on Tuesday following an incident during his team's game against New Zealand Warriors on Saturday.

The 21-year-old was charged with a grade-three offence of making dangerous contact to the eyes of Warriors winger Adam Pompey.

Pompey appeared via video link from Auckland to provide evidence in the case, stating he "didn't feel anything at all" as he grounded the ball for a try in the first half.

However, Young - who had already served a five-match suspension earlier in the 2019 season for gouging Canterbury Bulldogs forward Aiden Tolman - was found guilty.

The sentence handed down means he will miss the Raiders' entire finals campaign this year, as well as the start of the 2020 campaign.

"I just want to thank the panel for a fair hearing. Although I'm disappointed with their decision, I'll accept my punishment and learn from it," Young said in a statement.

"I'd like to thank Adam and [lawyer] Nick [Ghabar] for speaking on my behalf. It's much appreciated.

"I'll now focus on returning to training this week and doing everything I can for the team."

Canberra face minor premiers Melbourne Storm in their qualifying final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is free to play for Sydney Roosters against South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday after overturning a one-match ban for a high tackle.

The prop was punished for a challenge on fellow front-rower Liam Knight during the meeting between the same two teams last Thursday, a game the Rabbitohs won 16-10.

Kristian Woolf will replace the departing Justin Holbrook as St Helens head coach, the Super League club have announced.

Woolf has signed a two-year deal, with Saints also holding an option for a third season, and begins his new job at the start of November.

The 44-year-old will arrive from Newcastle Knights, where he served as an assistant to Nathan Brown before taking charge on an interim basis following the departure of the former Saints boss.

He was recently sacked as Tonga coach following a five-year stint at the helm that included steering them to the semi-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

"I'm excited and privileged to be joining St Helens as head coach," Woolf - who has also previously worked for Brisbane Broncos - said in a statement released by Saints.

"It's something I have always wanted to do and it's a great opportunity for me.

"St Helens is a club with an amazing history and I'm confident we can achieve great things together."

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus is "very confident" Woolf can build on the strong work done by Holbrook, who confirmed in July he will take over at Gold Coast Titans in 2020.

However, before he exits, the NRL-bound coach will hope to sign off by leading his current employers - who have clinched the League Leaders' Shield this year but lost to Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup final - to glory in Super League.

"We consider that Kristian is ideally qualified and placed to build upon the current success of the team and the club," McManus said of Woolf.

"He has the experience and expertise to bring the best out of our existing squad and to improve it further.

"We are very confident that the Saints will seriously compete for honours under his tenure and that we will continue to play attractive and exciting rugby league."

Canberra Raiders have rewarded head coach Ricky Stuart with a new three-year deal, it was confirmed on Monday.

Stuart – who arrived in 2014 – will remain in charge of the finals-bound Raiders until the end of the 2023 NRL season.

It comes after former Raiders player Stuart guided Canberra to a top-four spot this season and turned the club into genuine title contenders ahead of Saturday's qualifying final against Melbourne Storm.

"I'm honoured to be given this opportunity, to play for this club and now to be their head coach I'm so honoured and even more so today, I'm excited with the development of the club. It's not just about coaching first grade it's about the whole club," Stuart said.

"My passion and enthusiasm for the club is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I'm like the fan who sits out there and braves the cold. I want to win on the weekend and win a competition and I can assure you that every waking moment is about delivering that promise one day."

Raiders chairman Allan Hawke added: "Ricky's contract was up at the end of next year, but we wanted to give some surety to players that are off contract going forward and any new players coming to us, that Ricky will still be part and parcel of the whole operation right through until then [2023].

"One of the first things Ricky did when he came on as head coach was to get a group of leaders from the playing group and with them develop the values we would stand by as a playing group. They are still right with us which is why there is such solidarity and will among them."

The Raiders ended the regular season in fourth position with 15 wins and nine losses from 24 games – 10 points adrift of the table-topping Storm.

Cronulla Sharks pipped Wests Tigers to the last place in the NRL finals with a 25-8 victory at Leichhardt Oval, denying Robbie Farah a fairy-tale end to his career.

Only an unlikely draw would have sent both teams through to the elimination finals at the expense of Brisbane Broncos, and an electric start to the second half turned the game in favour of the Sharks.

Farah broke his leg just four weeks ago and only made the squad due to an injury to Corey Thompson in the warm-up, but he could not inspire a dramatic turnaround in his final match before retirement.

The Sharks will face Manly Sea Eagles in their elimination final, with the other seeing Parramatta Eels take on the Broncos.

Briton Nikora danced his way past four players to cross for an excellent try, with Shaun Johnson's penalty on the stroke of half-time the difference between the teams after Paul Momirovski kicked two goals.

Josh Morris extended Cronulla's lead five minutes after the restart, the centre pouncing when Esan Marsters failed to keep hold of Johnson's grubber kick.

An excellent offload from Jack Williams preceded Sosaia Feki going over in the left corner and the Sharks wing had his second less than three minutes later by barrelling through Momirovski.

Michael Maguire responded by sending on Farah for his first appearance since his injury and Luke Garner darted through for the Tigers' first try with 19 minutes remaining.

However, they were unable to add to their tally and Cronulla prop Paul Gallen – who will retire at the end of the season – slotted through the first drop goal of his career in the final seconds.

Nathan Cleary scored a club record 34 points as Penrith Panthers finished their season with a 54-10 thrashing of Newcastle Knights.

New South Wales Blues half-back Cleary crossed twice in each half, with Billy Burns bagging a double in just his second NRL appearance.

Brian To'o, Wayde Egan and Moses Leota also got in on the act, with Cleary converting all of Penrith's nine tries in a blistering display that was James Maloney's last outing before moving to Catalans Dragons.

Canberra Raiders will face minor premiers Melbourne Storm in the NRL finals after a shock loss to New Zealand Warriors, while Gareth Widdop and Jeremy Latimore bid a triumphant farewell to St George Illawarra Dragons.

The Raiders were unable to regain third position from South Sydney Rabbitohs – who will face rivals Sydney Roosters in the qualifying finals – as they went down 24-20 at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Ahead of their meeting with the Storm, Canberra will have concerns over Michael Oldfield after the wing went off with a shoulder injury sustained while touching down in the corner and making it 20-12 in the 53rd minute.

There could also be trouble for Hudson Young, who appeared to make contact with Adam Pompey's eye while attempting to stop him score a try in the 30th minute. Young served a five-match suspension for a similar offence against Canterbury Bulldogs in June. Addressing the latest incident, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said: "I know he didn't gouge the kid."

The Warriors rallied late on to secure a win, as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck polished off an incredible move after the visitors did superbly to keep the ball alive on the last tackle in the 69th minute and Blake Green ran in to complete a surprise turnaround.

Widdop converted four tries and assisted one in his final match before departing for Super League side Warrington Wolves as the Dragons defeated the Titans 24-16.

Half-back Widdop - who became the first Englishman to score 1,000 NRL points - released Ben Hunt for his second try in the space of six minutes, with Latimore coming on for the final two minutes to help Paul McGregor's side close their season with victory in his final match before retirement.

Brisbane Broncos were unable to guarantee their place in the finals as they fell to a humbling 30-14 loss at the Bulldogs.

Nick Meaney scored a hat-trick and had 22 points as the Bulldogs ended the season with another upset that means the Broncos must hope Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks do not draw on Sunday – an unlikely result that would send both teams through at Brisbane's expense.

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