NRL finals 2020, preliminary final:
Melbourne Storm defeat Canberra Raiders.
- Melbourne Storm 30-10 Canberra
- Storm to meet Panthers or Rabbitohs in final
They just hold, don't they, Melbourne Storm. Stars come and go season after season, rivals change, but Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith stay, refusing to give up, finding a way. They're back to the NRL grand final.
Tonight's preliminary final was over as a 25-minute contest. Storm soared out of the blocks, scoring four unanswered tries in disarray with Canberra 's protection. The last 55 minutes finished 10-6 in favour, but it was too little too late.
Jahrome Hughes ran Melbourne's game, backed by Smith's gamecraft and Ryan Papenhuyzen's electrifying pace. The Storm pack also faced superbly, neutralizing Josh Papali'i and refusing any cheap ball from attack or defensive mistakes.
Underperformed the Raiders. They were shocked early, making some awful defensive errors, particularly on their right edge. Once they gained a foothold in the game, they left plenty of points on the field for bad execution-again primarily by not connecting throwing chains to the right wing. Wighton had just ten runs for 65 m and one tackle break, Nicoll-Klokstad wasn't any more. It was as one-sided as you may for such a high-stakes game.
Melbourne's only downsides were knocks on Brandon Smith, Jahrome Hughes and Nelson Asofa-Solomona, as well as a report on Justin Olam. It'd be a shock if everyone missed the final.
Thank you for joining me tonight. Tomorrow, we'll be back to find out who'll take on Melbourne in the grand final.
Player ratings: Melbourne Storm
Melbourne Storm player ratings in their preliminary final clash with Canberra Raiders.
- Ryan Papenhuyzen: permanent hazard. Silkily helped launch and finish a long-range attempt as the Hurricane started its early spree. Then set up Justin Olam with a grubber for himself. Had a few major defensive moments, ran for a team-high 153 meters. 8.10
- Suliasi Vunivalu: Amazing balance and strength to tip-toe inside the sideline, beating three Raiders to bag a sensational four-pointer. Healthy Fijian equivalent Semi Valemei in an engaging fight. 7
- Brenko Lee: Sound offensively, missed one tackle all night, running the ball well. Wasn't distracted by the occasion. 6
- Justin Olam: Must have taken Papua New Guinea into raptures on a Nick Cotric mistake to win. However, he gave away a blatant offside call, not long after Canberra scoring and missing five tackles. Otherwise solid. 6
- Josh Addo-Carr: Demonstrated his dazzling speed over Papenhuyzen. Fumbled a grubber to deny himself an attempt, allowing Nick Cotric to score from a cross-field kick. Strong defensively, and Jordan Rapana had an important try-saver. 7.5 7.5
- Cameron Munster: Power constant. Didn't pose his normal challenge running the ball — maybe due to his dodgy knee — but chimed well with some classy passing and kicking. 7
- Jahrome Hughes: Terrific results on the field. Produced three trial assists, including two in 10 minutes, and was unfortunate not to have one. Kicking was awesome. Evolves as a special half-back. 9
- Jesse Bromwich: Bullocked into a pit to bag first points and usually set the platform to help the Storm roll upfield. 7
- Cameron Smith: A-grade service as usual. Almost always took the right decision, and the boot was wise. The old legs took 60 meters to save Cotric from scoring from a kick. A five-minute early mark as a fairytale looms. 7.5 7.5
- Christian Welch: Worked hard and nullified the usually explosive Raiders pack. Posted 119 meters from Melbourne's forwards. 7.5 7.5
- Felise Kaufusi: Strong without being outstanding in attack, defending stiffly on his edge, going through 27 tackles and shutting down challenges to Canberra. 6.5 Then, 6.5
- Kenny Bromwich: In a silent display, only six carries 52 meters. Did his work defensively make 28 tackles. 6
- Nelson Asofa-Solomona: just 29 minutes but 75 meters and 15 tackles. The enforcer was a huge influence keeping Canberra's big men at bay. 7
- Fourteen. Brandon Smith: Things went up when injected in the 18th minute. Routinely punched with strong, momentum-building carries behind the markers, giving his all in defense. Went out for a late first-half HIA but returned. His sole defect was a handling mistake. 7
- Fifteen. Tino Faasuamaleaui: Well done to maintain the pressure as he got on and let nobody down in his 44 minutes. 6.5 Then, 6.5
- Seventeen. Nicho Hynes: Didn't see much activity after six minutes. A few good touch-finding kicks, but no other chance. 2
- Dale Finucane: A worker-like effort in game 200, churning 43 minutes as he recovered from a headache. Was powered back into the goal from the second half kick-off but landed a big blow after Vunivalu batted back a bomb. 6.5 Then, 6.5