Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
118 mins ago
Finals 2006 Week 3
Melbourne Storm 24 v St George Illawarra Dragons 10
at Telstra Stadium
Referee: Steven Clark
The Melbourne Storm have set the stage for an all 'interstate' grand final following a polished 24-10 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons tonight. With the Brisbane Broncos defeating Canterbury Bulldogs last night, Sunday week's premiership decider will be the first between two non-Sydney teams in NSWRL-NRL history.
Greeted by a hostile Telstra Stadium bathed in red-and-white, the Storm ran in two tries to one in the first half to post a 12-6 lead at the break.
Following close calls for both sides, the first try came with rookie sensation Greg Inglis crossing in the 14th minute. The Dragons struck back in the 25th minute with centre Matt Cooper running onto a tremendous offload from backrower Ashton Sims. Less than two minutes later, Storm centre Matt King pull down a precision kick from half back Cooper Cronk to put Melbourne ahead by six points.
The second half developed into an arm wrestle as the stakes in the sudden-death clash were raised. The Storm however, were on the ascendancy, with quick play-the-balls and mounting pressure on the back of a solid defensive effort.
The turning point was delivered in the 61st minute when Melbourne winger Steve Turner scored out wide courtesy of an overlap.
Saints were still in the contest when winger Brett Morris scored out wide with 10 minutes remaining. But the conversion attempt was waved away and the Dragons found themselves eight points behind with as many minutes remaining.
With four minutes remaining, Storm forward Antonio Kaufusi scored under the posts to confirm victory and end the Dragons' season.
Melbourne Storm: 24
Tries: Greg Inglis, Antonio Kaufusi, Matt King, Steve Turner
Goals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 3/3
St George Illawarra Dragons: 10
Tries: Matt Cooper, Brett Morris
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 0/1
2006 NRL Grand Final
Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos
Sunday 1st October 2006 - 7:45pm at Telstra Stadium
By the Clock:
Fantastic night in Sydney for this grand final qualifier between The Storm and the Dragons, the winner taking on the Broncos in next week's premiership decider.
Curtain raiser results:
Newtown Jets defeated Dragons 38-28 in the Premier League preliminary final;
Sydney Bulls defeated Newtown 56-22 in the Jim Beam Cup grand final.
Dragons and Melbourne players are on the field. Referee Clark blows time on... and the match is underway!
4 min: NEWS Dragons hooker Aaron Gorrell looks to have copped a heavy knock while tackling and there's a stoppage while he is being attended to.
5 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking...
VERDICT: NO TRY. Storm denied after Greg Inglis was unable to properly ground the all. A close call.
6 min: NEWS Dragons with opportunity after fullback Clint Greenshields comes with the ball while tackling his opposite Billy Slater. Dragons on the attack from 10m out but knock on and are unable to capitalise.
10 min: Posssible TRY to Dragons. Video ref looking...
VERDICT: NO TRY. Gorrell not able to properly ground the ball. And as with the Storm no try, a close call.
14 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking...
14 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Inglis runs through gap from 10m out following an excellent set move from the scrum. Video ref checks for double movement but there was never any doubt. Follows a repeat set at the Dragons' line. Cameron Smith converts from almost in front.
23 min: NEWS NO TRY - Dragons denied after last pass to winger Wes Naiqama is called back by the ref as going forward. Naiqama diving over in the corner but no dice.
25 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Centre Matt Cooper runs through after backing up second rower Ashton Sims from close range. The Dragons attacking down their left side and getting some ball. Gorrell converts from wide out.
26 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking....
26 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Centre Matt King pulls down cross field kick from half back Cooper Cronk. Video ref checks for grounding but its OK. Follows Dragons error after restart. Smith 15m in from touch successful with the conversion.
33 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Melbourne Storm
Cronk misses field goal attempt from 40m out after they were getting a roll on.
Half time: Storm in front 12-6.
Saints have had their opportunities and field position but have only managed the one try and are being met by some solid defence from the Storm. Support play up the middle of the ruck is a feature of Melbourne's play and they have two tries to show for their efforts. They are out-muscling their opposites in the middle and up front.
Storm applying the pressure and have the momentum, but there's only six points in it and this match is far from over.
Second half underway...
41 min: NEWS ON REPORT - Dragons prop Justin Poore on report for a lifting tackle on Storm winger Matt Geyer.
42 min: NEWS Storm come within a whisker of scoring after Inglis leaps up to a cross field kick. The ball spills out on the way down.
50 min: Still no change to the score as both sides are lifting the tempo.
52 min: Storm with the best opporunity since the break. Quick play-the-balls and they have the numbers. A huge hit on forward Ben Cross from Naiqama saves a try.
53 min: NEWS Inglis comes off with an injury. Forward Mick Crocker also coming off for the Storm with a knee injury.
56 min: NEWS A hurt Greenshields comes off for the Dragons. Meanwhile referee is cautioning Storm players for a bit of niggle.
58 min: NEWS INJURY UPDATE. Shoulder injury for Inglis but he should be back. Crocker trying to get right with work on the kne. Greenshields has ankle injury and probably 50/50.
61 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
An overlap develops and winger Steve Turner gets a try in the corner following sustained pressure. This could be a killer blow as we approach the latter stages. Smith conversion is a ripper.
64 min: NEWS INJURY UPDATE - Both teams lose a player each. Greenshields will take no further part. Crocker will take no further part. But Inglis coming back on.
68 min: Possible TRY to Dragons - video ref looking...
VERDICT: HELD UP! Naiqama very close as Saints keep the pressure on with one more play.
69 min: Possible TRY to Dragons - video ref looking...
69 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Winger Brett Morris scores in the corner as Saints run it on the last tackle. Mathew Head misses an important conversion but its game on!
74 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Melbourne Storm
A Storm attempt at one-pointer hits the upright and is waved away.
76 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Forward Antonio Kaufusi busts through some ordinary defence to score under the posts and put the match beyond doubt. Coverted successfully by Matt Geyer.
78 min: NEWS FIGHT - Not much in it, a minor dust up in the scrum.
79 min: NEWS Dragons make a late charge but Naiqama is nailed by the Melbourne cover defence in the corner.
FULL TIME: The Storm win 24-10.
The minor premiers Melbourne Storm have posted a well deserved victory with a polished performance. The St George Illawarra Dragons gave it a solid shot but were simply beaten on the day by a well drilled Melbourne outfit.
The season is over for Saints, but possible glory awaits Melbourne as they go on the meet Brisbane Broncos on Sunday 1st October in the 2006 NRL grand final.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Matt King (Storm)
2 - Cameron Smith (Storm)
1 - Greg Inglis (Storm)