Storm outclass South Sydney

The Melbourne Storm have put on a clinic as they have advanced to the preliminary finals with a 24-6 victory over the Rabbitohs at AAMI Park in front of 19,750 fans.

The Rabbitohs started strong with a dominant display in the first five minutes. However, against the run of play, the Storm capitalised on an error from Tigers-bound secondrower Eddy Pettybourne. Billy Slater crafted an opportunity for Mahe Fonua but he was held up short of the line.

It was all class in the next play as Ryan Hoffman burrowed his way under the Rabbitohs defence to post first points. Cameron Smith split the uprights from the sideline to add the extras, seeing the Storm lead 6-0 after eight minutes. Shortly after, Smith elected to extend his side's lead with a penalty goal in the 10th minute.

It was all downhill for the Rabbitohs from there as the Storm score two further unanswered tries before half time. Despite the efforts from Andrew Everingham, Billy Slater was awarded his four-pointer as he powered through the tackle to plant the Steeden on the whitewash. The second try was posted minutes before the siren as the Victorian born-and-bred Mahe Fonua was gifted his points thanks to a Gareth Widdop footwork display.

The Rabbitohs looked outmuscled as they trailed 18-0 at the half time break.

The Melbourne Storm backed their defence for the second forty minutes only scoring one further four-pointer. Sisa Waqa performed well, posting a try thanks to a pin-point pass from Gareth Widdop. Cameron Smith fired the conversion between the posts to extend their lead to 24-0 after seven of the second half.

The Rabbitohs took 72 minutes to post points, after Adam Reynolds was earlier denied for an obstruction play. Minutes later, Michael Crocker laid the foundation for Eddy Pettbourne to score with a strong run. Reynolds added the extra two points to post the full time score, 24-6.

A masterclass performance from the Storm sees them advance into the Grand Final qualifier, while the Rabbitohs do battle next week against either the Sharks or Raiders.

Match Details
Melbourne Storm 24 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 6
National Rugby League - Finals Week 1 - Saturday September 8, 2012 5:45pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Jason Robinson
Video Referee: Russell Smith and Bernard Sutton
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Henry Perenara
Crowd: 19,750
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 18 South Sydney Rabbitohs 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Gareth Widdop
2 Points - Billy Slater (1 Try)
1 Point - Sisa Waqa (1 Try)

Melbourne Storm (24)
Tries: Ryan Hoffman, Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Mahe Fonua
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)

South Sydney Rabbitohs (6)
Tries: Eddy Pettybourne
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (1/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to League Unlimited's coverage of this second qualifying final LIVE from AAMI Park between the Melbourne Storm (2nd) and the South Sydney Rabbitohs (3rd). A preliminary spot is up for grabs with the victor getting a week off, while the loser will enter the semi-finals to face the either the Cowboys or Broncos.

Earlier in Toyota Cup here at AAMI Park, the Sydney Roosters stole a victory on the full time siren with a 24-22 win over the Rabbitohs.

In NRL teams changes: The Rabbitohs are unchanged, 1-17.

Meanwhile for the Storm, Mahe Fonua replaces Anthony Quinn on the wing. Bryan Norrie and Kevin Proctor start with Jason Ryles and Sika Manu ruled out. The shuffle sees Richard Fa'aoso and Siosaia Vave added to the bench
We are moments away from kick off here at AAMI Park as both sides getting their final words from their respective coaches in the sheds.
1 min: We are UNDERWAY here in this qualifying final here in Melbourne as the Rabbitohs kick off to give the Storm first use of the footy
1 min: The Storm with a good set to start, Cooper Cronk fires the ball downfield and it's collected well by Nathan Merritt. He is taken by the tackle of two on his 40 metre line.
2 min: Dave Taylor and Michael Crocker with charging runs in the set for the Rabbitohs. Adam Reynolds on the last launches the ball into the air it's charged down by Gareth Widdop. As a result the ball bounced over the sideline and the Rabbitohs pack a scrum down on the Storm's 30 metre line.
3 min: Dave Taylor showing his inner 5/8th with a little chip kick, however nothing coming off it as the Rabbitoh who ended with it was caught. The Storm have the ball through the change over on their 10 metre line
4 min: Adam Reynolds boots the ball downfield and the Storm collect it in goal and met the Rabbitohs chasers on their 20 metre line to start their set.
6 min: UNFORCED ERROR South Sydney Rabbitohs
Eddy Pettybourne makes an errors and knocked on. But Billy Slater has picked up the ball and darted downfield to link up with his support players. However, the Rabbitohs in defence have stopped Mahu getting over. Held up the call. The Storm continue 10 metres out.
8 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Ryan Hoffman. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

The video referee awards a try to Ryan Hoffman. Hoffman darted over the line as he burrowed under the Rabbitohs defenders. A try against the run of play as seen the Storm post first points. Cameron Smith from the near touchline nails the conversion
Melbourne Storm 6-0
9 min: Penalty goes to the Storm against Michael Crocker for jumping too early at the ruck, offside the call
10 min: Penalty against the Rabbitohs once again, this time for a slow ruck clearance. Cameron Smith elects to take the penalty goal from in front.
12 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful from in front
Melbourne Storm 8-0
14 min: Adam Reynolds kicks long downfield and it's taken by Billy Slater in goal, he meets the Souths chasers on his 10 metre line to start the set.
14 min: Cooper Cronk at the back end of the Storm's set fires it too long over the dead ball line which gives the Rabbitohs a 20 metre optional restart
16 min: Penalty to the Storm against the Rabbitohs for Dave Taylor holding down in the tackle too long.
17 min: A helpful penalty for the Rabbitohs as Andrew Everingham was taken in mid-air was fielding the kick. They march up to their 30 metre line.
19 min: Mahe Fonua had space to work with on the near sideline as he put in a grubber kick, but it was cleaned up Greg Inglis at the back. The Rabbitohs not cracking under pressure yet.
20 min: Michael Crocker getting a little heated with Todd Lowrie. Penalty has got to the Storm and they will kick up field.
21 min: The Storm getting on a roll as they almost come up with points with a right side play as Sisa Waqa and Justin O'Neill linked together. But it came to nothing with the pass ruled forward. South Sydney with the Steeden on their 20 metre line.
22 min: Another penalty to the Storm and almost the Rabbitohs have been marched an extra 10 metres for Dave Taylor giving the referee a spray. A kick up field sees the Storm start their set on the Rabbitohs 40 metre line.
23 min: VIDEO REFEREE for the Storm, Billy Slater has managed to get it down
24 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Billy Slater. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Billy Slater gets the BENEFIT of DOUBT as he powered through the tackle of Andrew Everingham to plant the ball on the whitewash for the Storm's second. There were question marks on the grounding with a little bobble at the death. However it's on the board and Cam Smith extends the lead with the kick
Melbourne Storm 14-0
26 min: Cooper Cronk kicks but is cleaned up by Dave Taylor as he got the kick away, no issue with it. However Nathan Merritt is forced in goal by the Storm chasers so the Rabbitohs concede a line drop out
27 min: Time off...Andrew Everingham and Billy Slater are down after a possible collision. Also concern with Dane Nielsen
27 min: Andrew Everingham has a shoulder concern after colliding with the knee of Dane Nielsen, but everyone with an issue is back to their feet. Play continues with the Storm attacking 10 metres out.
28 min: Cameron Smith toes a grubber through the line for Gareth Widdop, but he is beaten to the ball by two Rabbitohs. Another line drop out for the Storm.
30 min: John Sutton and Matt King force the Storm back in goal to earn their first line drop out. A chance for them attacking 30 metres from the line.
32 min: Adam Reynolds with a cross field kick for Matt King, but he is beaten in the contest by Gareth Widdop. The Storm come away easily with a poor attacking set from the Rabbitohs
32 min: UNFORCED ERROR Melbourne Storm
Cooper Cronk drops it cold as Craig Bellamy feels the pain in the box. Rabbitohs have a chance with a scrum feed on halfway
33 min: Mahe Fonua with a great catch in goal gives his sides a 20 metre restart. Adam Reynolds as aiming for the open space on the left wing, but it was taken by Founa before Souths to could think about attacking it.
34 min: UNFORCED ERROR South Sydney Rabbitohs
Nathan Merritt unable to take the short kick from Cooper Cronk. A silly mistake puts the Rabbitohs unable a load of pressure as they attack from a scrum feed only 10 metres out.
37 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Mahe Fonua. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

From the scrum base the Storm spread it to the left and it finds Gareth Widdop. He puts a step on the Rabbitohs defenders to then link with Mahe Fonua who strolls over in the corner. Cameron Smith with the conversion from the touchline hits the uprights and it bounces away
Melbourne Storm 18-0
38 min: Penalty is awarded to the Rabbitohs as Nathan Merritt had the ball stripped out. They kick up field and it's a Souths attacking on the Storm 40m
40 min: Jason Clarke looks to have a ankle injury as he limps from the field at HALF TIME. At the break the Storm hold an 18-0 lead over the Rabbitohs
41 min: We are back UNDERWAY for the second half as the Storm kick off.
43 min: Penalty is awarded to the Storm for the Rabbitohs holding down in the ruck too long for the referees liking. The Storm kick upfield and start their set on halfway
43 min: Well...Sisa Waqa batted the ball back in the field of play when all he and to do was catch it and fall down. But Greg Inglis knocked it over the touch in goal line, so the Sotmr have another chance.
45 min: UNFORCED ERROR South Sydney Rabbitohs
Adam Reynolds saves the try as Cameron Smith with a bit a class as he looked to grubber kick but cut out pass. So the Storm continue to attack the line.
47 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Sisa Waqa. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Sisa Waqa has his try now after throwing one away earlier. The Storm all class as they spread the ball wide into the hands of Gareth Widdop who drew defenders to create an overlap. The pass from Widdop to Waqa and it's all perfect from the Storm. Cam Smith from the touchline with a beautiful strike guided the ball over the black dot.
Melbourne Storm 24-0
51 min: A poor kick from Adam Reynolds falls straight into the arms of the Storm who start their set on their 10 metre line. The Souths side are looking tired and well on the back foot
52 min: Cooper Cronk fires the ball over the touchline on the full which will help the Rabbitohs' chances as they attacking with a full set on the 40 metre line.
53 min: The Rabbitohs looking very lost in attack with not much direction, Greg Inglis ended up with the ball and he had to try and kick it away, but it failed. Kevin Proctor plucked the ball and they start their set on the 10 metre line.
54 min: Richie Fa'aoso is penalised for laying on the tackle of Greg Inglis too long. South Sydney find touch 40 metres from the Storm line.
54 min: Richie Fa'aoso is penalised for laying on the tackle of Greg Inglis too long. South Sydney find touch 40 metres from the Storm line.
55 min: Two knock on's in the space of 20 seconds, but the advantage was played. So, the Rabbioths pack a scrum feed down on the Storm 40 metre line.
57 min: John Sutton with a little grubber through the line is forced dead by Sisa Waqa which gives the Rabbitohs a repeat set through a line drop out.
58 min: The Rabbitohs sliding across the field as the passes floated forward but not pinged or them. However, Gareth Widdop has driven Everingham over the sideline. The Storm come away with the ball deep in their own half.
60 min: Time off here as Richie Fa'aoso is getting attention after a head clash. He will be medicabbed off the field.
61 min: Fa'aoso has been stretcher off the field by the medical staff as the crowd claps him off. After all of that there was a penalty awarded to the Rabbitohs. They have their set on halfway
62 min: Matt King has his arm in a sling on the sidelines with what is a suspected broken arm. Not good news for he Rabbitohs. Meanwhile Fa'aoso won't return with a concession
63 min: VIDEO REFEREE for the Rabbitohs, there will be a penalty along here somewhere. Nathan Merritt has been collected by Billy Slater late after he kicked.
64 min: The RED LIGHTS obviously spin up but it's a penalty to the Rabbitohs for a late hit on Nathan Merritt from Billy Slater. The Rabbitohs attacking from a tap on the Storm 10 metre line.
64 min: Kevin Proctor is on report for a lifting tackle.
65 min: Dylan Farrell is forced over the sideline by some quality defence from the Storm. Scrum feed on the 10 metre line.
66 min: Penalty to the Rabbitohs for the Storm taking out the kicker. But before anything can happen it's over with a dropped ball. The Storm with the ball on their 10 metre line with Waqa
68 min: Another penalty to the Rabbitohs for a high tackle on Issac Luke. The touch finder sees them start their set on halfway
68 min: VIDEO REFEREE for the Rabbitohs, a massive gap. Obstruction here maybe...
69 min: NO TRY! Dave Taylor is penalised for obstructing Ryan Hoffman in the line. Adam Reynolds is denied so the dead lock remains.
72 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Eddy Pettybourne. Conversion attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.

The platform was set for the Rabbitohs as Michael Crocker busted the line with a strong run. On the next play the Rabbitohs spread it wide to Eddy Pettybourne to darted out over the line. The try awarded without review. Adam Reynolds with the kick adds the extras
Melbourne Storm 24-6
76 min: Penalty is awarded to Michael Crocker as the Storm slowed down the play of the ball. The Rabbitohs attacking only 30 metres from the goal line.
77 min: Dylan Farrell darted per the line after taking the bat back from Andrew Everingham but the Storm too good to hold up him. The Storm with the ball on their 10 metre line.
78 min: A tangled mess of players as Dave Taylor collected Rory Kostjasyn high. Cam Smith kicked ahead to start their set on the Rabbitohs 40 metre line.

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