Brave Eels fall short against Storm
The Melbourne Storm has managed a come-from-behind 18-16 qualifying final win against the Parramatta Eels at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.
It was a bruising and at times intense encounter but despite trailing at half-time, the Storm worked hard to defeat a determined Eels team.
The Storm took only four minutes to score with Josh Addo-Carr catching a Curtis Scott one-handed pass to open proceedings in the corner.
Melbourne dominated possession for the opening 25 minutes but the Eels were able to gain the ascendency and capitalise on an error-ridden first half by the home team.
Cameron Munster lost the ball in trying to score and then was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 23rd minute for stopping a quick tap.
It swung the momentum to the visitors and they quickly took advantage as centre Kirisome Auva'a crossed in the corner to draw level.
Eels fullback Will Smith held a superb inside ball from five-eighth Mitchell Moses to take a 10-4 lead into the break.
The Storm opened the second half with renewed intent and scored two sublime tries.
In the 52nd minute, Melbourne shifted the ball ten times on the last tackle and a ranging Felise Kaufusi run found Kenny Bromwich who crossed from close range.
Billy Slater put his side in front just 60 seconds later after collecting an Addo-Carr chip kick to grab a four-pointer.
Cam Smith kicked a penalty in the 62nd minute for an 18-10 lead but the Eels hit back four minutes later when Semi Radradra found space on the left flank after an arcing Brad Takairangi run set up an intense finish.
The Eels had opportunities late but the Storm held on to advance to the third week of the finals.
Melbourne Storm 18 (Josh Addo-Carr, Kenny Bromwich, Billy Slater tries; Cameron Smith 2 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 16 (Kirisome Auva'a, Will Smith, Semi Radradra tries; Mitchell Moses 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 22,626. Half-time: Eels 10-8.