Capitalising on a fast start and a commanding first half lead, the Melbourne Storm have gone on with the job in the second period to register a 22-6 victory over the Sharks to progress to the 2018 NRL Grand Final.
Three Storm tries in the opening 40 minutes, the last one coming on the stroke of half time, sent the Melbourne side to the break up by 20-0 and while the Sharks were brave in the second period, outscoring their opponents by 6-2, it was a mountain too high to climb as they bowed out of the premiership race.
Already without Co-Captains Paul Gallen and Wade Graham, the Sharks were forced to reshuffle their backline when Sosaia Feki was forced off with a shoulder injury in the first 20 minutes, making the task even tougher as the Storm proved too good on the night.
First points went to the Storm when Cameron Smith kicked a penalty goal in the fifth minute, but in a physical beginning neither side was able to trouble the scoreboard operator until the 20th minute and it would be the home team to add to their advantage.
Backorder Antonia Kaufusi got one-on-one with Ricky Leutele before off-loading to Billy Slater, the Storm fullback putting his young half Brodie Croft away on a 20-metre run to the line.
Smith kicked the conversion and after 20 minutes the Storm led 8-0.
Would the Storm enjoying the better of the field position they would press the Sharks line and it would be Slater to score, slipping through a would-be Cronulla-defender to touch down wide out.
Smith kissed his conversion attempt off the upright up it would go through the posts and the Storm were up 14-0.
After the Sharks had let slip a couple of chances at one end, the Storm were awarded another pressure-relieving penalty with a minute to go until the half and while a scuffle was breaking out behind play, Smith and Slater would take advantage of the mayhem, a grubber kick from the hooker finding his fullback who would touch down under the posts.
The simple conversion was successful and it was 20-0 Storm at the break.
To have any chance the Sharks needed to start the second half well and that's what they had appeared to do, a cross field kick bounced around after a contest in the air, with Jesse Ramien on the end of it to score, only for the try to be disallowed after multiple looks from the video referee deemed the ball to have been knocked on.
The effort from the Sharks couldn't be faulted, however a combination of stiff Storm defence and a lack of execution held them at bay, with the score remaining the same through the opening 25 minutes of the second half.
Another Smith penalty goal made it 22-0 Storm before the Sharks would open their account through Luke Lewis, the retiring champion hitting a hole off a clever Joseph Paulo pass to score 10-metres to right of the posts.
Valentine Holmes added the extras to make it 22-6 and when an enterprising attacking raid in the following set of six was called back for another dubious Storm penalty, the Sharks charge, and their 2018 season was over.
The Storm were denied a try when Josh Addo-Carr failed to ground the ball in the north-western corner of AAMI Park and that was as close as either side would get, the Storm claiming a 22-6 win to progress to the 2018 NRL Grand Final.
Luke Lewis try, Valentine Holmes goal
Billy Slater 2, Brodie Croft tries, Cameron Smith 5 goals