Melbourne have delivered a fitting celebration for skipper Cameron Smith’s 400-game milestone with a thumping 40-16 NRL win over Cronulla at AAMI Park.
In an entertaining weekend of rugby league, only one point separated both teams in the NRL semi-finals.
There were field goals galore as the Sharks and Rabbitohs moved through to the preliminary finals in close circumstances.
A number of players stood out for their teams making big metres through the middle, setting up crucial plays or icing field goals to seal their team’s fate.
Here is your NRL team of the week for finals Week 2.
Fullback: Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks)
He was elusive for Cronulla at the back, running for 96 metres. Holmes busted two tackles and made a line break, looking strong under the high ball and came up with the vision to chase the short kick-off in a crucial moment. The fullback scored the Sharks’ second try of the match.
Wing: Nene Macdonald (St George Illawarra Dragons)
He may not have got on the scoreboard but there was no questioning Nene Macdonald’s efforts against the Rabbitohs. The Papua New Guinea international ran for 189 metres, largely off the back of five tackle busts.
Centre: Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Lomax managed to contain Greg Inglis with 24 tackles. The 18-year-old looked confident in his own skin, converting four goals from as many attempts and coming dangerously close to the chalk.
Centre: Dane Gagai (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Gagai was strong in attack for the Rabbitohs with a number of strong runs totalling 154 metres. The Australian international busted two tackles and made 18 of his own in defence playing a crucial role on the right flank.
Wing: Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks)
Feki was effective on the wing providing the lead-up to Holmes’ try. He ran for 131 metres busting a total of five tackles for the evening with some enterprising runs late in the game.
Five-Eighth: Matt Moylan (Cronulla Sharks)
Moylan was composed in attack having the foresight to set up Luke Lewis with a crisp pass. He was strong in defence with 23 tackles coming up with a try-saver on Isaah Yeo. Moylan forced two drop-outs.
Halfback: Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Reynolds hits not one, not two, but three field goals to book the Rabbitohs a place in the preliminary finals. He scored Souths’ only try, busting through three tackles with the ball in hand. His impact was felt most with the boot, forcing two dropouts and pressuring the Dragons’ defensive line.
Prop: Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks)
Fifita was the Sharks’ best through the middle of the park running for 175 metres with four tackle busts. He chewed through an enormous workload, providing a try assist for Chad Townsend. The Tongan international made 23 tackles and stepped up with the absence of Paul Gallen.
Hooker: Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
The Dally M favourite burst out of acting half for 152 metres. Cook was once again dangerous from the ruck, busting through three tackles. He also forced a drop out while making 42 tackles in defence.
Prop: Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
The England international was the Rabbitohs’ best middle-forward with 177 metres gained. He had a big 58-minute performance, making 35 tackles.
Back row: Luke Lewis (Cronulla Sharks)
The veteran was dangerous on the right edge, scoring a try in the Sharks’ big win. Lewis’ four-pointer came moments after he forced the error on Waqa Blake, he had two tackle busts running for 70 metres and making 16 tackles.
Back row: Angus Crichton (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Crichton set up Adam Reynolds to score after running 108 metres throughout the match. The young backrower busted five tackles for the night. Crichton was one of the Rabbitohs’ best, particularly in the second half, making 30 tackles.
Lock forward: Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra Dragons)
De Belin was battling an ankle injury but put in the hard yards for the Red V. The Cootamundra junior made 123 metres and made 39 tackles in an inspiring performance.
Interchange: Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Frizell looked extremely good in attack, busting six tackles for 113 metres. He came up with the strip late in the game that led to a penalty goal to put the Dragons in front by one. He completed 35 tackles.
Interchange: Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
There is no questioning the work ethic of Cameron Murray, running out for a 58-minute stint and called into the game early in place of George Burgess. Murray made a total of 199 metres with some hard runs through the middle and made 32 tackles in defence. He came up with the strip late in the game to help gain field position for the Adam Reynolds field goal.
Interchange: Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)
Kikau was the Panthers’ primary attacking weapon. The Fijian international made an impressive 159 metres from 12 runs making a massive break to set up Waqa Blake and lock the scores up at 20-all. Kikau busted through four tackles, keeping the Sharks’ right-side defence at bay.
Interchange: Chad Townsend (Cronulla Sharks)
Chad Townsend iced the match-winning field goal to set up a 2016 grand final rematch with the Melbourne Storm. He scored the Sharks’ first try of the match and also set up Valentine Holmes to score.