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Storm players celebrate with the JJ Giltinan Shield following their win over the Sharks.

Melbourne prevailed in the battle for the minor premiership at AAMI Park on Saturday, a night which saw Suliasi Vunivalu's dream debut season continue and his wing partner Marika Koroibete pull off one of the tackles of the season.


Storm finish as minor premiers 

The match lived up to the lofty expectations that were set all week, and it was the Melbourne Storm who would come out victorious and claim the JJ Giltinan Shield. 

In front of 24,135 fans, a record crowd at AAMI Park for the season, the home supporters were treated to a fantastic 80 minutes as their side sealed top spot on the ladder.

Finals picture becomes clearer

Despite three more games being scheduled for Sunday, both teams know their opponents for next week's qualifying finals.

After finishing in top spot the Storm will host the Cowboys in Melbourne next weekend, after North Queensland defeated Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon to lock in fourth spot.

Cronulla's match-up isn't 100 per cent confirmed, although the Sharks know they'll face the Raiders next weekend.

If Canberra get beaten by the Tigers on Sunday Cronulla will host tie fixture, although if the Raiders are able to beat Wests the Sharks will have to travel to the nation's capital.


Marika Koroibete's desperate defence 

On the stroke of half-time the Sharks were pressing for a late try to bring themselves back to within two points of the Storm, but what Marika Koroibete did next typified Melbourne Storm's defence all season.

Melbourne were caught napping in the middle of the park and Cronulla had three men free on the right, and after Luke Lewis caught the ball with two mean on his outside a try looked certain.

The Fijian speedster was determined to keep the Sharks out however, and as Lewis shifted it to Jack Bird who then through it on to Valentine Holmes in the corner, Koroibete met him with a thunderous tackle that drove Holmes into touch, as the AAMI Park roared in appreciation.


Suliasi Vunivalu makes history

After bursting onto the scene in Round 7 at Leichhardt Oval scoring a double on debut, Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu on Saturday night set a Melbourne try-scoring record.

Vunivalu leapt over Valentine Holmes in the corner and planted the ball down in the 57th minute to score his 22nd try of the season, one more then rookie Israel Folau scored in 2007.

Vunivalu's season consisted of one four-try haul, two hat-tricks and five doubles, as the 20 year-old Fijian lit up the NRL in his rookie year.

Cronulla error count a worry

Although the score-line may not have suggested just how close this game was, Cronulla were in this match for the majority of the contest, although they were their own worst enemies.

The Sharks turned the ball over numerous times in promising positions, gifting the Storm's defence a break right when Cronulla needed to put them under pressure.

Cronulla made twice as many errors as the Storm throwing the ball away 13 times to Melbourne's six, as they saw the minor premiership slip further and further out of their hands with each error made. 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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