25 Sep 2016

Storm through to seventh grand final

6:10 am on 25 September 2016

The Melbourne Storm held on to beat the Canberra Raiders 14-12 in a tight semi-final and set up a National Rugby League title decider against the Cronulla Sharks.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Raiders made the minor premiers work hard for their seventh trip to the grand final, their first since 2012, especially when Elliot Whitehead scored a converted try after 76 minutes to make it a two-point game.

The Storm's experienced core kept their cool in a tense final four minutes, however, to ensure the visitors were unable to build on their momentum and steal the victory.

"It's been a few years since we've been there and it's just a fantastic feeling," Storm captain Cameron Smith said in a pitchside interview.

"They were really hard to stop when they got going, but I was really proud of the way we defended tonight."

Cooper Cronk celebrated becoming only the 25th man to play 300 NRL games with the Storm's first try after winger Jordan Rapana had given Canberra an early advantage with his club-record 23rd try of the season.

The sin-binning of Raiders winger Jack Wighton on the hour mark turned the match with Cheyse Blair soon scoring a try which gave the Storm breathing room until Whitehead's score set up a thrilling finale.

The Sharks stormed into the final on Friday after five-eighth James Maloney orchestrated the dethronement of the champion North Queensland Cowboys at Sydney Football Stadium.

Maloney, who won the title with the Sydney Roosters three years ago, went six of seven with the boot and scored two tries, the second from a sensational interception, as the Sharks won 36-20 in front of 36,717 fans.

The Sharks, who finished bottom of the league in 2014 after becoming enmeshed in a scandal over the use of banned supplements, have been to three previous finals in their half a century in the top flight but never won the title.