Melbourne Storm defeated in controversial circumstances.
South Sydney have booked a berth in the NRL preliminary final after downing the reigning champions the Melbourne Storm by 10 points at ANZ Stadium.
However, the away side will feel hard done in the 20-10 loss after having two legitimate tries denied by the video offcials.
The impact the referees had on the game will be one of the big talking points as Melbourne face the prospect of being dumped out of the finals race in straight sets.
Souths were wasteful with their ball very early as penalties and handling errors started to creep into their performance.
Souths scored against the run of play when Dylan Farrell benefited from a cheap turnover, as the Storm lost the ball coming off their own line.
However, Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds reacted perfectly to send a long pass to his winger to
score untouched, as the home side led 6-0.
Souths continued to edge away when Reynolds landed a penalty in the 22nd minute to make the lead eight.
This was all in spite of Melbourne having most of the possession and territory as they continued to weather the storm from the away side’s potent attack.
Again the Storm placed themselves under pressure with their ball security in the tackle well below.
After being caught offside twice in the matter of seconds the Storm was told to clean up their act
as the penalties against the Storm reached a worrying five just a quarter of the way through the game.
The glut of possession saw Jeff Lima bash his way across the line, and despite further scrutiny from the video referee the Bunnies prop was shown the green light.
Reynolds added the extras next to the posts as the home side continued to make the most of every opportunity the Storm handed them as the score reached 14-0.
Souths prop Roy Asotasi was penalised and placed on report for an apparent ‘crusher’ tackle on Jason Ryles.
Justin O’Neill looked at but certain to score for the Storm only to be stopped by a crunching tackle from Greg Inglis
just before the line.
However, Sisa Waqa scored soon after when he got a hold of a Cooper Cronk chip kick only for it to be sent upstairs
to review the grounding.
Despite there being evidence Waqa made contact with the turf, the original call of no-try by the on-field referee meant Souths retained their 14-point lead.
Gareth Widdop looked to have butchered a certain try for the Storm as he held onto the ball when a pass would have found Waqa with a clear passage to the line.
The Storm got one last chance for points in the first half as they elected for a shot at goal from 40 metres out.
However, Cameron Smith’s shot was waved away and Souths held the reigning premiers scoreless through the first 40 minutes.
After a scrum win on the Bunnies line, Billy Storm scored the first try for the night for the Storm after he wriggled he way across the line.
Melbourne were made to wait for the green light after the offcials wished to look as a possible obstruction in the lead-up to the try.
Smith slotted the chance on goal as the gap narrowed to just eight, as South Sydney saw a the premiers coming at them with plenty of time left in the game.
Slater looked to have scored his second after Will chambers was ruled to have interfered with Nathan Merritt as he went to catch a chip kick in what was a huge call in the context of the game.
To rub salt in the wound South scored soon after after Inglis set up Issac Luke with a darting run close to the line.
Reynolds slotted the easy chance as the home side stretched its lead to 14 again with time running out for the Storm
to make a comeback.
Dylan Farrell was placed on report for dangerous contact after Waqa landed on his head and shoulder after leaping high to make a desperate bid to catch a cross-field kick.
Waqa was stretchered off the field as the game was held up with only nine minutes left.
The Storm showed they were not going away as Will Chambers planted the ball over the line in what was a soft example of defence from Souths.
Smith crucially missed the chance to add the extras as the margin stayed at 10, which is what it remain at after the first game of the NRL finals.
Melbourne will now play the winner of the Canterbury Bulldogs versus the Newcastle Knights for the right to stay alive in the hunt for the title.