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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The Melbourne Storm have booked a grand final rematch with the Sydney Roosters after outclassing Parramatta 32-0 at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
After suffering a shock 12-10 loss to Canberra last week, Melbourne were on from the opening whistle, restricting the Eels to minimal possession while running in five tries of their own in the first half.
It sets up a thrilling Preliminary Final next week at the Sydney Cricket Ground between the competition's two heavyweights.
They have played out two of the best games of the season thus far, the Tricolours winning the first 21-20 while Melbourne were victorious 14-12 in the other.
It means that Cooper Cronk can end his former club's premiership chances after the winged halfback Cronk famously led the Roosters to glory in last year's decider.
While most neutral fans were cheering on the Parramatta fairy tale, they could at least find amusement in seeing Cameron Smith sent to the sin bin in the 29th minute for an open-hand slap at Reed Mahoney.
Smith won't have anything to worry about though with Cody Walker only receiving a fine for a similar offence in South Sydney's win over Manly on Friday night.
Prior to kick-off many suggested that as they did against Brisbane, the key for Parramatta was to shift the ball early and throw caution to the wind.
But it was Melbourne who capitalised off early ball movement as Josh Addo-Carr raced away and weaved through the defensive line to score in the fifth minute.
Fellow winger Suliasi Vunivalu then sliced through four minutes later.
Parramatta had few opportunities in the first half and only had themselves to blame, coming up with two poor errors which Melbourne capitalised on immediately through Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes.
In total they completed just four of their 11 sets in the first forty.
Addo-Carr then chased down a Munster grubber to push their lead out to 22, but it could have been over 30 if Cameron Smith had a better night off the boot.
The Eels were presented with a glimmer of hope when Smith was binned but Melbourne continually turned them away.
Parramatta had far more ball in the second half, 56% of it in fact, yet the Storm still didn't let up and eventually extended their lead in the 58th minute through a diving Ryan Papenhuzyen.
Dylan Brown ran down Justin Olam late despite the game being well and truly over in a play that would make disappointed Parramatta fans proud before Nelson Asofa-Solomona crashed over to ice the win.
Melbourne Storm 32 - Parramatta Eels 0
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 22 Parramatta Eels 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Nelson Asofa-Solomona
2 points - Cameron Munster
1 points - Josh Addo-Carr
MELBOURNE STORM (32)
Tries: Josh Addo-Carr (2), Suliasi Vunivalu, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Conversions: Cameron Smith (1/6), Ryan Papenhuyzen (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Munster (0/1)
PARRAMATTA EELS (0)