Storm through to grand final
Since winning the 2012 NRL premiership, the Melbourne Storm haven’t qualified for a grand final. However, after capitulating at the same stage last year, the Storm were disciplined and clinical to defeat the Canberra Raiders. Although the Storm have gone under the radar for much of the season, the minor premiers proved that they don’t have to be at their best to win important matches.
Cronk’s happy 300
Cooper Cronk scored a vital try while becoming just the 11th player in NRL history to play 300 games for one club. The halfback picked his moment to perfection, choosing to run at Aidan Sezer after receiving a pass from Cameron Smith. Cronk’s run caught Sezer off-guard as Melbourne reclaimed the ascendancy.
The referee’s decision to send Jack Wighton to the sin bin was understandable but so was Wighton’s decision to hold Vunivalu in the tackle. Although it was a clear professional foul, the Melbourne Storm were in the ascendancy after the Fijian made a break down the sideline. Ultimately, Wighton’s decision changed the momentum of the match as Cheyse Blair scored shortly after the fullback was sent to the bin.
It may take a while for the Raiders to be able to reflect on 2016 clearly but the transformation of the Green Machine has been incredible. From not being able to win at home in 2015 to finishing second in 2016, the Raiders have surpassed every target they would have set before the season began. Boasting a young and confident team, Canberra should keep improving and will be amongst the favourites for the 2017 premiership.
IN THE SHEDS
Wighton – Sin bin
Leilua – Hamstring
Tries: Cronk, Blair
Conversions: Smith 1/2
Penalties: Smith 2/2
Tries: Rapana, Whitehead
Conversions: Sezer 2/2
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