Storm through to sixth straight Prelim after Eels shootout

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Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels

Melbourne Storm edged Parramatta Eels 36-24 to advance to their sixth straight Prelim tonight at Suncorp Stadium. 

For an hour, this contest was a scrap between two quality sides but Melbourne Storm showed in a quick burst of points that they still had some extra class against a gallant Parramatta Eels side, and move within a game of another Grand Final. 

It wasn't a vintage performance but led by Ryan Papenhuyzen, the Storm did enough. The fullback put together a Man of the Match which included a pair of tries and try-assists which left a marker for the seven teams left to match. 

Once Blake Ferguson crossed to make it 18-all, we settled in for a showstopping finish. The Storm put paid to that - Jesse Bromwich, Brenko Lee and Papenhuyzen found the stripe - and suddenly the Storm had made it an 18-point margin and held on. 

Before the contest, all the numbers pointed to an easy Storm result. The Eels produced a turn up for the books. Mitchell Moses first kick of the night saw Nathan Brown make it 6-nil then a counter attack suited to the Premier League, saw Clint Gutherson make it 12-nil. 

Melbourne were behind but had peppered the Eels left-side defense. Passes went to ground early but it clicked into gear eventually for the departing Suliasi Vunivalu to dive over then it was the left again as Papenhuyzen finished off a slick move to send it to 12-all at the break. 

The Storm weren't going to be caught off guard again. It took 120 seconds for them to hit the front, again it came from the left, this time it finished off with Addo-Carr. Cameron Smith ensured the side were going up in sixes and the Storm had their first lead. 

Eels struck back again through Ferguson as the Eels refused to fall over. Unfortunately for the visitors, the injuries piled up. Tryscorer Ferguson and Andrew Davey both had to leave the field and the makeshift Eels backline had a big challenge to comeback. 

The Storm went to their extra gear pushed ahead by three scores and secured their sixth straight Preliminary Final as success continues to ooze out of the Storm structure despite all the rumblings of pieces going different directions. The only dampener is the possible injury to half Cameron Munster. 

Credit to the Eels. They kept fighting until the finish. Shaun Lane stepped across to cut the margin to 12, but it was a bridge too far for the blue-and-gold. They now host the winner of South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights tomorrow afternoon. 

Melbourne Storm 36 - Parramatta Eels 24

Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Crowd: 0
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 12 Parramatta Eels 12 Players of the Match:
3 points - Ryan Papenhuyzen
2 points - Kenneath Bromwich
1 points - Clinton Gutherson

Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu, Ryan Papenhuyzen (2), Josh Addo-Carr, Jesse Bromwich, Brenko Lee
Field Goals:
Conversions: Cameron Smith (6/6)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: Nathan Brown, Clinton Gutherson, Blake Ferguson, Shaun Lane
Field Goals:
Conversions: Mitchell Moses (4/4)
Penalty Goals:

See how it happened in our Match Centre