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Player ratings: Storm v Sharks

Player ratings for the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks players following their preliminary final clash at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Storm

1. Billy Slater: Set the tone with his kick returns and had 100 running metres by the 20th minute. Will be sweating his try-saving shoulder charge that belted Sosaia Feki into touch but had Cronulla all hot and bothered with two tries, 188 running metres and 11 tackle busts. Best on the paddock but that tackle will be the talking point for at least the next 24 hours. 9/10

2. Suliasi Vunivalu: Did what he had to do whenever Cronulla came to his edge but saw little ball in return. Quiet night for the Fijian. 5.5

3. Will Chambers: Had his fair share of traffic but despite some nervous moments held Cronulla at bay and warmed to his task. Should be better for the gallop. 6

4. Curtis Scott: Saw little action in attack so came looking for work in the second half. Kept old teammate Jesse Ramien under wraps with some fine defensive reads. 6

Slater sends Croft over

5. Josh Addo-Carr: Electric as usual when kicks came his way and held his own against Edrick Lee in the air – some effort. Always busy in attack. 7

6. Cameron Munster: Played with a deft hand when Slater ran amok, then carved up as well for good measure as the game wore on. Defended strongly in a mature showing. 8

7. Brodie Croft: Couple of good early kicks and the first try to boot with sharp footwork in support. Outpointed his opposite and held his own out wide in defence too. 7.5

8. Jesse Bromwich: Superb first stint as Andrew Fifita huffed and puffed, going all the way with the Tongan monster. Great front-rower's knock. 8

9. Cameron Smith: Chimed in with the grubber for Slater's second try and held the middle together as usual, not to mention his side with Cronulla trying every trick in the book. His 42 tackles topped the count for both sides. 7.5

10. Tim Glasby: Battled after copping a few heavy knocks to the ribs and only came back on late with the game won. 4

11. Felise Kaufusi: Laid on the Croft try with his first attacking foray and a fine offload and threatened to repeat it every time the ball came his way. Switched into the middle and was still Melbourne's best forward. Came of age with this performance. 9

12. Joe Stimson: Cut down Chad Towsend with a grasscutter for the poolroom and shouldered a serious workload – can hang his hat on 109 metres and 31 tackles. 8

13. Dale Finucane: Ripped in with serious gusto in the middle and enjoyed the rough and tumble as much as any. Solid and physical as ever. 7.5

Interchange:

14. Kenny Bromwich: Picked up the running battle with Fifita and didn't shirk it, solid contribution from the pine. 5.5

15. Christian Welch: Noticeable impact with ball-in-hand, particularly close to the Sharks line, and finished with 19 tackles too in the middle. 6

18. Brandon Smith: Had to wait 50-odd minutes to get out there but didn't miss when his shot. Threw his stocky frame and then some at Cronulla, vindicating Craig Bellamy's call to play him over retiring favourite Ryan Hoffman. 7

17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona: Got an early crack in his return from injury and bent Cronulla back immediately. Real X-factor coming off the bench and gave the lungs a workout 21 tackles. 7

Sharks centre Ricky Leutele.
Sharks centre Ricky Leutele. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Cronulla Sharks

1. Valentine Holmes: Limited opportunities to use his pace as the Storm kicked long and nailed him. Finished with five tackle breaks and 149 metres but a disappointing end to a superb season. 6/10

2. Sosaia Feki: Jumped for a bomb in the 22nd minute and fell awkwardly on his shoulder. Injured his AC joint and did not return. 2

3. Jesse Ramien: Made 126 metres from 15 runs on a night when the Sharks backs came up with very little. Late hit on Slater in dying stages summed up Sharks' frustration. 5

4. Ricky Leutele: Poor first half with a dropped ball and bad miss on Antonio Kaufusi who put Croft away for Storm's first try. 4

5. Edrick Lee: Had no impact on the match. 4

6. Matt Moylan: A forgettable night for the No.6 in defence and attack. Billy Slater stood him up cold in the 29th minute for a try. 4

7. Chad Townsend: Kicked way too deep the entire first half, putting no pressure on Slater. Missed five tackles. 5

8. Andrew Fifita: Played the entire first half and made 10 runs and 19 tackles but his frustration was obvious as he put a late shot on Kenny Bromwich in the 40th minute and ended up in a push and shove with four Storm players. Got through big minutes (65) and finished with 127 metres but the Storm controlled him all night. 6

9. Jayden Brailey: Made 33 tackles but only ran the ball three times. Not the first No.9 to be completely overshadowed by Cam Smith and he won't be the last. 4

10. Matt Prior: Got through 52 minutes and made 12 runs for 79 metres. Worked tirelessly. 6

Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes.
Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

11. Luke Lewis: Tried hard and bagged a try late in the game but had limited impact in attack and was clearly hampered by a leg injury. Not the way he would have wanted to go out after such a decorated career. 6

12. Kurt Capewell: Only nine runs for 69 metres. Barely sighted. 3

16. Aaron Woods: Came into the starting side and worked hard in his first stint of 32 minutes. Finished the night with 17 hit-ups and 149 run metres and never shirked his task. 7

Interchange:  

14. Scott Sorensen: Played 57 minutes and made just four runs. 4

15. James Segeyaro: Came into the game in the second half and ran around in circles. Offered nothing. 3

20. Joseph Paulo: Took no part in the first half but did put a great shot on Brodie Croft in the second term to force a rare Storm error. 3

17. Jayson Bukuya: Made 26 tackles but had no impact on the game in attack. 4