Cheyse Blair celebrates his try against the Raiders in the Preliminary Final.

Storm v Raiders: Five key points

Melbourne have won their way through to the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final and will face the Cronulla Sharks next Sunday night in the decider.

 


One massive week begins as another season ends

Melbourne moved into their second Grand Final in five years, as Canberra's season came crashing down on Saturday night.

In a game that had everything, the Storm needed the full 80 minutes to hold off a fast finishing Raiders side after Elliott Whitehead trimmed Melbourne's lead to two points with just four minutes remaining to set up a grand stand finish.

Canberra fought long and hard after going down by eight points with 20 minutes to go, but the Green Machine couldn't extend their season by another week.

Jack Wighton sees 10

After a professional foul to stop a breakaway try by Marika Koroibete, Raiders fullback Jack Wighton was sent to the sin bin in a moment that completely changed the game.

Koroibete broke up the left wing before being stopped by Wighton 20 metres from Canberra's line, although the fullback held on too long and was given his marching orders.

Canberra were down to 12 men, and Cheyse Blair made them pay instantly on the resulting set with a four pointer.

As anticipated, Melbourne dominated that entire period and stretched the lead out to eight through a Cameron Smith penalty goal in front of the posts.

The advantage was exactly what Melbourne needed to get themselves back on top of the contest, and the Storm wouldn't give up the lead on their way to the final.

Cronk stars in game 300

All eyes were on the 25th man to play 300 games during Saturday night's preliminary final, and Cronk stood tall throughout his milestone match.

The mercurial halfback was at the forefront of Melbourne's attack deep on Canberra's line, and looked the most likely to score. Cronk managed to find a gap in the 32nd minute to put the Storm on the board after being denied only minutes earlier.

Cronk was as professional as ever even down to the final seconds, as a perfect grubber kick forced Canberra to knock the ball dead with under a minute left to seal the Storm's win.

 

Edrick's night to forget

In a game that was full of big moments and close calls, winger Edrick Lee was at the centre of two of the biggest chances of the night.

With the score at 8-6, the ball slipped through Lee's hands as he went to intercept a lazy Cameron Munster pass. He would have almost certainly have runaway for the try had the ball stuck.

Lee also had a golden chance in the final 10 minutes with the Raiders down by eight, as a set play from a scrum saw the winger in open space.

With the line wide open Lee fumbled the ball, bombing a certain try.

Finals footy at its best

Defence generally steps up a notch in finals footy, and Saturday night's game was no different.

The game began as a physical, draining affair, and it stayed like that over the entire 80 minutes.

Just two tries were scored each half as points were hard to come by, and the game will be long remembered as one of the toughest and best of 2016.

Canberra were left to deal with injuries to Jarrod Croker and Joseph Leilua which hampered their attack late in the contest.