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Storm finish top of final NRL standings with win over Sharks

RUGBY LEAGUE: Melbourne Storm outplayed Cronulla Sharks 26-6 to finish top of the final season standings and claim Australia’s National Rugby League minor premiership on Saturday (Sept 3).


Monday 5 September 2016, 10:55AM

The Storm, with Test skipper and hooker Cameron Smith in commanding form, led 10-2 at half-time and went on to finish four tries to one winners.

Melbourne will now face defending champions North Queensland Cowboys at home on the opening weekend of finals football.

It was the well-drilled Storm’s first minor premiership since 2011 to make them title favourites heading into the finals series.

Meanwhile, the Canberra Raiders clinched a top-two finish with a nine-try demolition of the Wests Tigers to end the Tigers’ top-eight finals hopes yesterday (Sept 4).

Ricky Stuart’s title contenders crushed the woeful Tigers 52-10 after leading 30-4 at half-time and will host the Cronulla Sharks in the national capital on Saturday in the opening week of the month-long finals.

It was a miserable end to the season for Wests Tigers, who went into their sell-out home game needing a win to leapfrog the Gold Coast Titans into the eighth and remaining spot for the NRL finals series.

But it was no contest as the Raiders dominated the opening half with some flowing attacking play against the ragged Tigers defence.

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Melbourne will now face defending champions North Queensland Cowboys at home on the opening weekend of finals football on Saturday (Sept 10).

Elsewhere, Jarryd Hayne’s Titans went down 32-16 to the Cowboys in Townsville earlier on Saturday but they kept their place in the finals and will take on the Broncos in Brisbane in an elimination play-off on Friday (Sept 9).

Penrith Panthers slammed the Manly Sea Eagles 36-6 to finish sixth and they will play the Canterbury Bulldogs in an elimination final on Sunday (Sept 11).

The Sharks could yet finish in third spot on the final standings if the Canberra Raiders leapfrog them with a win over the Wests Tigers in Sydney on Sunday.

There is plenty on the line in Sunday’s match with the Tigers needing to beat the Raiders at home to nudge the Gold Coast Titans out of the last finals spot.

The Titans went down 32-16 to the Cowboys in Townsville earlier on Saturday to remain one competition point ahead of the Tigers.



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