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Less than perfect Storm prevail, Cronk gets his fairytale farewell, Boyd's bravery lasts only 53 minutes and Kaufusi continues his upward trend.

Less than perfect Storm seal grand final berth

Cameron Smith twice kicking the ball dead in-goal; Billy Slater dropping a bomb cold; Suliasi Vunivalu spilling the ball with the line wide open.

They're hardly the plays that you would associate with a Melbourne Storm victory but after a haphazard first 38 minutes the minor premiers finally began to click into gear and book their place in their third grand final in the past six years.

The opening to the first half had all the hallmarks of their qualifying final game against the Eels as dominance failed to translate to points on the scoreboard, two of the most potent wingers in the premiership both missing early opportunities.

Besides one perfectly placed long kick that almost caught the Broncos napping Smith's kicking game was uncharacteristically heavy-handed and a number of passes went to ground, prompting less than complimentary reactions from Craig Bellamy in the coaches' box.

But while their attack faltered the defensive resolution never wavered and after Curtis Scott sent Josh Addo-Carr on a 50-metre run for the first try of the night a minute before the break they took a vice-like grip on the result that never released.

The final score read 30-0 but the scary thing is how much better Bellamy knows they can play next Sunday.

Cooper Cronk's fitting farewell to Melbourne

As is his regular routine Cooper Cronk let every other member of the Storm squad run through the banner made in his honour before he joined them on the field and from there it was another workmanlike display in his final game at AAMI Park.

His final match for the Storm will be fittingly on the game's grandest stage where his calm head and clinical execution will be a major trump card.

His chase on an early Cameron Smith kick in the ninth minute was as Cronk as it comes and as the Storm finally started wheeling and dealing in the second half the halfback backed up yet another Felise Kaufusi offload to put Billy Slater across for his second.

The question now is whether next Sunday's grand final will be Cronk's farewell from the game entirely.

Boyd's bravery lasts just 53 minutes

Darius Boyd ruled himself out of the Panthers game a week ago but it became clear early in the contest that the captain's left hamstring was still well short of 100 per cent and after 53 minutes he came from the field.

Showing no mercy for his Maroons teammate, Cameron Smith turned Boyd on a number of occasions early in the game with long kicks early in tackle counts and the Broncos fullback was barely able to get out of a trot as he brought the ball back.

He had some customary classy touches when the Broncos were on the attack and twice put his body in front of a powerful Suliasi Vunivalu run, but such was his discomfort that he had to come from the field with 27 minutes to play and allow Benji Marshall to take his place.

Kaufusi continues his upward trend

On a night where opportunities seemed few and far between for such a long time it was the somewhat surprising figure of Felise Kaufusi who provided the catalyst for the Storm's second-half slaughter.

Curtis Scott's spectacular piece of play before half-time gave his side a lift both in confidence and on the scoreboard but as they looked to kill off the Broncos' resistance it was Kaufusi who came to the fore.

Having made a line break in the first half and been unlucky not to score himself, Kaufusi provided a superb offload to send Billy Slater on a run to the right-hand corner and it was the 25-year-old back-rower who provided the spark for Slater's second try with another offload in traffic for Cooper Cronk.

So close to earning a maiden Origin jersey with Queensland the past two years, another strong display next weekend may be enough to earn Kaufusi a Kangaroos World Cup berth.

Broncos lacking imagination in Storm territory

Breaking through the purple Storm wall is the toughest assignment in the Telstra Premiership but given the number of opportunities they were afforded Brisbane failed to throw enough variety at the Melbourne defence.

When Kodi Nikorima made a clean line break late in the first half Matt Gillett killed any sense of momentum with a one-out play from dummy-half and in the opening minute of the second half rather than try to stretch the defence out wide after an error by Nelson Asofa-Solomona from the kick-off, the Broncos burned a number of plays from simple forward 'settlers'.

A great strength of the Broncos is the skill their players possess but too often when the moment presented itself they took the safe option rather than chancing their hand.

In saying that, Anthony Milford did everything in his power to provide the attacking spark Brisbane needed and Nikorima looked dangerous at times but execution by players around them was lacking at crucial times.


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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