The Storm showed their class and composure to overcome a spirited Eels side who went in to half time with the lead but couldn’t keep pace with the Minor Premiers in the second 40. Melbourne came flying out of the blocks with an early Josh Addo-Carr score but Parramatta finished the half strongly with tries from Kirisome Auva’a and Will Smith earning them a six point lead at the interval.
Melbourne regained the lead after 50 minutes with Billy Slater in the thick of the action as he followed up Kenny Bromwich’s try with a four-pointer of his own. A Semi Radradra try gave the hosts some late nerves but they managed to hold out for the win. Brad Arthur’s men will be waiting on the result of the Sharks vs Cowboys on to find out who their next opponent is other running the red-hot favourites mightily close.
1 Storm pushed all the way
Melbourne were made to fight 'til the death in this one as Parramatta refused to give in despite extended periods of pressure. The game could have gotten away from the Eels early on, with Cameron Smith almost slicing through from the first set of the match.
The Storm only came away from that dominant start with a single try and the second 20 minutes of the half saw Parramatta work themselves back in to the match. The Eels could have been further ahead at half time but Melbourne showed why they finished on top of the ladder and swung the game back in their favour to pick up a nervy but crucial victory.
2 Melbourne recover from terrible 20 minutes
The first half can be divided into two distinct quarters after the Storm's poor second 20 minutes of the game allowed Parramatta back into the contest. Errors and penalties started creeping in around the 20 minute mark Munster was soon in the sinbin too.
The Eels scored on Munster's side from the following set and the Storm continued to invite them in to their red zone with errors from Suliasi Vunivalu and Nelson Asofa-Solomona contributing to a half time six point deficit.
They showed their class and composure to come over that 20 minute lapse in the second half. But a similar performance drop could prove costly should the Storm, as many expected them to, reach the Grand Final.
3 Parramatta should take positives
They may have come out on the wrong side of the scoreline but Parramatta's fourth placed finish has earned them a second chance next weekend. Arthur's side will have been dissapointed to lose after leading at the interval but the positives clearly outweigh the negatives.
In defence, they kept a rampant Storm side to a single first half try when many teams would have caved under their early pressure. They also kept to their attacking game plan, something that paid off with two tries in the second quarter.
Their persistence and belief was matched by their desire and commitment so there is plenty of positives to take ahead of next week.
4 Addo-Carr upstages Vuni and Semi
The battle of two of the leagues' most exciting and lethal finishers looked as if it would play a major part in who would come out on top in this one. But we were reminded that Radradra and Vunivalu have stiff competition from the electrifying Addo-Carr, who was a thorn in the Eels side all afternoon.
The Storm were targeting the Eels' left edge and Addo-Carr gave his opposite number some serious headaches. They would've seen Kirisome Auva'a struggle in defence against the Rabbitohs last week and they made sure he had plenty of decisions to make throughout the match. The Storm number five finished the match with a try, two line breaks and a try assist with a skillful kick for Billy Slater's four-pointer. He has now scored 20 tries this season and would've earned himself a few more fans after this performance.
5 Eels couldn't handle second half pressure
While they will be proud of their effort, Parramatta will look to periods in the second half where they failed to maintain their concentration and allowed the Storm to stay on the front foot for longer than they could handle.
They ended the first half with an impressive 94% completion rate. And even though they ended the game with just seven errors, the timing of them and a number of silly penalties proved costly.
Only three of their seven sets were completed in the 20 minutes after half time as Melbourne turned the tide. Radradra's 65th minute try did give them hope however a few more errors saw any chances of late drama slip away.
6 Storm in prime Premiership position
Melbourne were already overwhelming favourites for the 2017 Premiership and they are now halfway to the Grand Final. Given that their next opponents will have played an extra week, it will take an almighty effort to stop the Storm from reaching the NRL's showpiece.
They will either face the inconsistent Panthers or the Broncos, who fell to a deserved defeat at the Roosters. Whoever faces the Storm will have to put in an almost perfect performance to stop them.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in rugby league but at this early stage, it looks as if the Roosters are the only side with a genuine shot at challenging the Minor Premiers.
What were your highlights from the Storm's narrow win over the Eels? Let us know in the comments below.
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