Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
41 hours ago
Melbourne Storm 28 vs Cronulla Sharks 12
at Olympic Park, Melbourne
Referee: Steve Clark
The Melbourne Storm have continued their relentless march towards the Minor Premiership win a 28-12 win over the Cronulla Sharks in front of 11,486 fans at the ?Graveyard? in Melbourne tonight.
The Storm opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a try to Cooper Cronk following a Ryan Hoffman break ? Cronk putting Hoffman into the gap to start the scoring movement. A Hoffman try after 20 minutes that went unconverted put the Storm up 10-0. Five minutes after that Cronk was denied a second try when David Kidwell was penalised for an obstruction.
The Sharks then spent a long period on attack but the Storm defence held them out, before Dallas Johnson delivered a crushing blow to the Sharks with a try right on halftime to give the Storm a 16-0 lead at the break.
It only took the Storm eight minutes to increase their lead in the second half with a classic Storm try. Cameron Smith took a kick on the full and set off in the other direction. He had enough time to position Billy Slater on his left shoulder before passing to him and letting him race away to score.
On the hour mark the Sharks scored a well deserved try through Richard Villasanti who barged over out wide to give the Sharks a sniff at 22-6. Slater picked up his second somewhat fortuitously when Jake Webster broke up the middle and his pass back inside was knocked down. Slater picked up the bouncing ball and raced away to score under the black dot, Matt Geyer added the conversion to celebrate his 200th Storm appearance.
Darren Albert dotted down out wide in the final minutes to give the score some respectability at 28-12. In reality the Sharks did not deserve to lose quite so heavily, as they had long periods of the match on attack but were unable to crack the incredibly resolute Storm defence at the crucial times.
The win allows the Storm to open up an eight point gap at the top of the table, pending the results this weekend. Next week the Storm travel to Oki Jubilee Stadium for a much anticipated clash with the Dragons, while the Sharks look to arrest their four game slide hosting the Knights at Toyota Park.
Melbourne Storm: 28
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson, Billy Slater(2)
Goals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 3/4
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 12
Tries: Darren Albert, Richard Villasanti
Goals: Luke Covell 2/2
Halftime: 16-0 Storm
By the clock
Good evening from Olympic Park Stadium in Melbourne for tonights clash between the Storm and the Sharks.
Tonight Toshio Laiseni is out for the Sharks. Kearney moves to fullback for them.
The Sharks in grey and white, the Storm in purple and dark blue. Geyer plays his 200th Storm game - the first to do it.
1 min: Underway in front of a decent crowd!
3 min: The weather is fine, if not a little cold.
8 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Hoffman breaks up the middle, offloads to Cronk who races away to score beside the posts. Smith converts.
13 min: The Sharks lose the ball 30 out and the Storm go on attack.
14 min: Hoffman is penalised for obstruction only metres out from the Sharks line.
16 min: The Storm hold out a Sharks attacking set. Turner makes a bust to help Storm field position, and they keep looking like breaking the line.
17 min: The Storm go almost 100 metres in a set, King is ruled to have knocked on going for a bomb that was touched down by Hoffman.
18 min: Sharks come up with a good set making plenty of metres, but they get penalised for offside on a poor last play option.
20 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Off the back of two penalties, Hill throws a great pass to Hoffman who runs through a gap and scores 18 metres to the left of the uprights. Smith misses.
25 min: VIDEO REF - For a Storm try...
25 min: NO TRY - Storm
Kidwell is penalised for obstruction as Cronk zips past defenders.
27 min: Sharks squander a good attacking opportunity with a forward pass.
31 min: Kearney makes a huge break and puts the Sharks right on attack. The Storm scramble well and hold out for the set.
35 min: The Sharks attack off a string of penalties, the Storm push them back and Geyer takes a kick on the full in the in goal. Great Storm defence.
38 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Dallas Johnson barges over on the last tackle next to the uprights. Smith converts.
HALFTIME: We go to halftime with the Storm in control 16-0. The Storm fully deserve their 16-0 lead. The Sharks have had some good attacking moments, but they have been snuffed out. The Storm are running all over the Sharks on attack.
Possession: Sharks 51%/49%
Completions: Sharks 13/18, Storm 15/19
Tackles/Missed: Sharks 143/24, Storm 160/15
Offloads: Sharks 8-6
Errors: Sharks 5-3.
40 min: Back underway!
48 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Cam Smith takes a great catch on a kick and he sets off up field. He waits for Billy Slater to move from Smiths right to his left, Smith finally passes to Slater who races away to score 10 in from touch. Typically Melbourne. Smith converts.
52 min: Storm coming up off their line and are smashing the Sharks in defence.
52 min: INJURY - Cameron Smith (Storm) leaving the field with a jaw injury - not serious, they just aren't risking him.
58 min: And for what seems like the millionth time the Storm hold out a Sharks attacking raid, this time conceding a drop out.
59 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Villasanti barges over from close range to give the Sharks a deserved try. Covell converts.
66 min: Sharks hold out a Storm attacking raid.
67 min: INJURY - Richard Villasanti (Sharks) struggling with an injury and is leaving the field.
71 min: Bird is penalised in possession for reacting to a supposed grapple tackle. The Storm knock on early in the set.
73 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Webster breaks up the middle, his pass inside to Slater is knocked backwards by the Sharks and Slater picks up the ball and races away to score under the posts. Geyer celebrates 200 games for the Storm with a conversion.
76 min: VIDEO REF - For a Sharks try...
76 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
The Sharks kick wide to Albert who scores out wide in the tackle of King. Covell converts.
77 min: CROWD - 11,486
FULLTIME: The Storm run out 28-12 winners over the Sharks.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)
2 - Ryan Hoffman (Storm)
1 - Cooper Cronk (Storm)