NRL: Storm learn a tough lesson from shock loss to Warriors

Nathan Merritt of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Photo / Getty Images
Nathan Merritt of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Photo / Getty Images

Melbourne are determined to avoid the heartbreak that prematurely ended their NRL premiership campaign last season.

The Storm booked their sixth preliminary finals appearance in seven years with a crushing 24-6 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in their qualifying final at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Earning a break, the Storm will next face either Manly or North Queensland on Friday fortnight for a spot in the grand final.

After their ejection at the preliminary final mark last year at the hands of the Warriors, Melbourne are desperate to make it to the big stage.

"We need to have a look at how we can do things better from last year," said skipper Cameron Smith.

"We were in this position last year and we fell short.

"I'm sure [coach] Craig [Bellamy] and his staff will have a look at what happened last year and see which way we can best prepare for whoever we play next because it's going to be really tough," said Smith.

The week's break is vital with their injury toll reaching crisis point, particularly in the forwards. However, all players, with the exception of centre Will Chambers, are expected to be back in contention.

The only sour note of the match was second-rower Kevin Proctor going on report late in the game for a lifting tackle on Sam Burgess. Storm five-eighth Gareth Widdop said if Proctor was suspended it would leave a big gap.

"He's a really good player ... obviously he would be a massive loss, but I'm sure he will be fine," said Widdop at a recovery session yesterday.

He said all the players stepped up to execute their simple game plan against the Rabbitohs and deliver one of their best showings of the season.

"We've worked hard all year and we've had a few slow patches in games and I think last night everyone just worked really, really hard and things that we did during the week [at training] came off yesterday," Widdop said.

"It's finals football, it's a lot quicker and the intensity is a lot higher and everybody stepped up."

- AAP

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