NRL 2022 Parramatta Eels Melbourne Storm

The Parramatta Eels have smashed their way past the Melbourne Storm, and earned themselves a top-four finish – setting up a week one finals clash against the Panthers.

It’s the first time the Storm have missed the top four since 2014, and their sixth loss from seven games against the Eels.

The only concern for the Eels was a sloppy last five minutes in which the Storm scored two tries – and if not for a shanked Cameron Munster conversion on the second, could have set up a tense final minute.

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The gritty determination shown by the Eels was perfectly showcased early in the second half, when Mitch Moses smashed Kenny Bromwich into the turf in a crunching one-on-one tackle.

Bromwich was shortly after pulled from the field for a HIA, which he would ultimately fail.

After the match, Eels skipper Clint Gutherson said Moses had stepped up the past few weeks, and said his half back would no doubt be retelling the story at training all week.

“It was good, we’re not going to hear the end of it, he’s going to carry on about that for a while,” Gutherson said.

“Hopefully Kenny’s alright – obviously he came off but hopefully the head’s alright and he can play next week.

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“The last few weeks, Mitchell’s really put his body on the line and that’s what we need him to do – Dyl’s (Dylan Brown) one of the best in the game at defending and Mitchell’s trying to do his best as well. It was a great tackle.”

The Eels came hard out of the blocks and put the Storm under immense pressure before Dylan Brown opened scoring in the 12th minute.

The home side then looked dangerous for the balance of the first half, before a Mitch Moses penalty goal on the half-hour mark saw the Eels take an 8-0 lead to the sheds.

Gutherson magic sets up Sivo

It was more of the same for the most part of the second half – Will Penisini crossed in the 43rd minute, before Maika Sivo made it three to the Eels on the hour mark.

Harry Grant picked up a consolation try in the 66th minute, before a 71st minute penalty goal looked to seal it for the Eels. However, late tries to Nick Meaney and David Nofoaluma looked to set up a grandstand finish, before a bizzare conversion attempt from Munster for the Nofoaluma try robbed them of a remote chance to level the score.

With Meaney sporting an arm injury, Munster set up to take the kick from only a few metres outside the post. But he rushed it, and the Steeden flew off the side of his boot and was waved away by touchies.

Munster said the side’s poor execution let them down.

“There’s no excuses. We train really well in the week and then come out in the field and either we get the yips or we just not hold on to the ball,” he said in his post-match interview with Brad Fittler.

“We get to our spots really well. We have got to execute better, that is myself as well.

“I was pretty poor tonight – I thought I was good in glimpses but I pretty much let the team down tonight.”

After the game, coach Craig Bellamy said injury woes had likely left the team “a touch fatigued”, but didn’t use it as an excuse. He instead praised the work of his charges at the end of a gruelling regular season.

“Tonight, we’re disappointed with how we performed at certain stages,” he said.

“I think they’ve done the club really proud this year to even get where we’ve got to, and we’ve had some guys come in who haven’t played much first grade. Guys like Marion Seve, he’s come in and turned into a real first grader.”

The Storm could potentially welcome back Jahrome Hughes next week, Bellamy saying his star halfback would “hopefully” return for an elimination final against either the Raiders or Brisbane.

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But Hughes or no Hughes, they need to lift.

“I think the benefit of tonight is tonight,” Bellamy said.

“We’ve played Thursday night, and we’ll be playing at home next week so we won’t have to trouble. That’s our biggest benefit and hopefully we can use that wisely and find that energy.”

Munster said it would be “really tough” for the Storm to win the comp from fifth. No side has won the comp in the NRL era from outside the top-four.

“It will be really tough from here I’m not going to lie about it, but we have got to believe that we can go further in the finals,” he said.

“We obviously have got to work really hard, each and every one of us in the team. I really believe we can.

“But at the moment we’re making it really hard on ourselves.”

The Storm will finish fifth on the ladder, unless the Roosters smash the Rabbitohs by 56 points or more on Friday night.

Assuming the Raiders beat the Tigers on Sunday afternoon – and if they do, that the Broncos’ don’t flog the Dragons by 44 points of more – the Storm will host the Raiders in week one. If the Raiders lose, the Broncos need to win to squeak into the eight.

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