Dreams become nightmares as Melbourne flog Parra
Not even a Cameron Smith sin-binning was enough to help the lacklustre Eels. Melbourne quickly bounced back to their best after a dramatic loss to Canberra last week to set-up a mouth watering preliminary finals clash with arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters on Saturday after beating the Eels 26-0.
Only this time a grand final appearance, not a premiership is on the line against the Roosters as the teams who many expected to meet in another premiership decider come head to head a week early.
Will Cooper Cronk again sink the hearts of his former side with the Roosters halfback just 80 minutes away from retirement?
If the Storm perform like they did in Melbourne though they will be tough to beat even against a red-hot Roosters side as they advanced to their fifth consecutive preliminary final.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said is side needed to go another gear to play the Roosters.
"We will have to improve," Bellamy said.
"'m not quite sure of what yet. We know they are one hell of a footy team. They have some wonderful players. We know what we're up against.
"We were disappointed last week. When you get beat really late it adds to the disappointment.
"Everyone in the club was aware we were a bit down."
The Storm were never troubled against the Eels despite Smith being sin-binned for just the second time in his career.
In an uncharacteristic brain snap, Smith lashed out at Eels hooker Reed Mahoney after he kicked the ball. Smith objected to being held by Mahoney and said the slap unintentionally hit the Eels player in the head.
"He just wouldn't let me go. I tried to get his grip off my jersey and I missed the mark, so that was unfortunate," Smith said after the game.
''I spoke to him at half-time - just a little exchange in the tunnel -and he had a wry smile and said he got me there, so one-nil to Reedy.
''I was really disappointed with myself that I reacted that way and left my side vulnerable but I was really proud of the resilience the boys showed."
The warning signs were there early for the Eels when prop Junior Paulo dropped the ball with his first carry of the game in front of 21,015 punters.
Parramatta never recovered.
Just six days after a record 58-0 finals win against Brisbane, the Eels were dealt their own embarrassment for the second time this year by the Storm after the Victorians humiliated the western Sydney boys 64-10 in Magic Round.
Each of the Storm wingers had tries by the 10th minute as the Storm went on an early scoring spree.
Josh Addo-Carr completed an 85 metre movement with sheer pace helping him get on the outside of opposite Blake Ferguson, who was struggling with an arm injury from the opening set.
He beat Ferguson twice, as well as Clint Gutherson and Waqa Blake to score after six minutes.
When Suli Vunivalu scored four minutes later, the Eels had not touched the ball in between tries.
The Storm rushed to a 22-0 half-time lead with Addo-Carr scoring another. Jahrome Hughes - who the club feared had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at training last week - scored a try in the first half and laid on the first try of the second half to Ryan Papenhuyzen.
The Eels lost three players because of concussion in the space of a minute.
While the match was long gone- they were trailing by 22 points with 24 minutes left in the match - the head injury assessments didn't help their cause.
Clint Gutherson, Tepai Moeroa and Marata Niukore came from the field within moments of each other. Gutherson didn't return.
Eels coach Brad Arthur said he remained proud of what his team had achieved.
"It was disappointing," Arthur said. "I spoke to the group…everyone that supports our club and team everyone is proud of the boys. We didn't get it right (tonight). Our start was ordinary. The second half while we bombed some opportunities at least we had plenty of fight. We did some dumb things.
"Some moments we didn't get right. We didn't build a game tonight. We should've done better.
"We can build something for next year."
Eels winger Maika Sivo could miss the start of next year after being placed on report for a shoulder charge on Ryan Papenhuyzen.
KICKING UP A STORM
There are few things Smith gets wrong. But his goal-kicking went horribly awry, with the Storm skipper converting just one from six. Munster also missed a regulation penalty goal which would have meant an even blow-out in the score.
Craig Bellamy sprung a selection surprise when he axed Will Chambers to the bench for the first time in 12 years in favour of Curtis Scott.
Chambers played the final 14 minutes on the wing with Vunivalu given an early mark. Bellamy said he had "a few sleepless nights" making the decision.
"We thought it would improve our performance," Bellamy said.
"It was a big call. It's not easy to drop a player that has given this club that much service and good service."
MELBOURNE 32 (J Addo-Carr 2 N Asofa-Solomona J Hughes C Munster R Papenhuyzen S Vunivalu tries R Papenhuyzen C Smith goals) bt PARRAMATTA 0 at AAMI Park. Referee: Ben Cummins, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 21,015.
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