The Melbourne Storm have set up an NRL preliminary final blockbuster against the Sydney Roosters after dominating Parramatta 32-0.
The Eels had no answer as they were blown off AAMI Park in the first half on Saturday night in a game full of twists and turns.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith was sin-binned for just the second time in his career, for a slap on opposition No9 Reed Mahoney, but it had no bearing on the result as the Eels failed to trouble the scoreboard when he was off the field.
Importantly for Craig Bellamy's men, it was a big bounce back after last week's upset loss to Canberra.
The Storm will meet the Roosters and former teammate Cooper Cronk at the SCG on Saturday night for a spot in the grand final.
All year, the Storm and Roosters have been the teams to beat and many predicted they would meet again in the grand final but Melbourne's loss to the Raiders pushed them to the other side of the draw.
"We'll have to improve [against the Roosters], without a doubt," Bellamy said. "But in what areas? I'm not sure until I have a bit more of a look at the Roosters but they're one hell of a footy team. They've got some wonderful players, especially in the key positions."
Smith will not miss the preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters, despite being charged for his slap. He was yesterday given a grade one contrary conduct charge.
The charge carries a fine but no suspension, meaning Smith is free to take on the Roosters in the grand final qualifier.
Smith will have to pay $1350 with an early plea or $1800 if he contests the charge and is found guilty.
With Mahoney holding Smith's jumper, the Storm veteran struck out several times before landing a blow on the young Parramatta hooker's head.
Meanwhile, Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur believes their finals exit against the Storm was not an accurate summation of how much his team achieved this season.
Six days after beating the Broncos 58-0 — the Brisbane club's biggest ever defeat — Arthur was disappointed with the Eels' meek showing against the Storm. But he was quick to note that featuring in the post-season was a vast improvement after the misery of last year's wooden spoon.
"I am proud of the boys and the whole team," Arthur said. "We just didn't get it right [against the Storm].
With Melbourne clearly on a mission to make amends for their loss to Canberra last week, the Eels found themselves under siege from the outset.
Wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu both had tries within the opening 10 minutes and Arthur's side never recovered.
Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes crossed shortly after as the Storm led 18-0 inside 20 minutes and there was no way back for the Eels.
Arthur was left to lament a poor completion rate in the first half and some timid defence that allowed the Storm some easy scoring opportunities.
"We were passive on defence and we haven't done that for eight weeks," he said.
"We were a bit cautious about the way we approached it. We did some dumb things — shoulder charges, tackling blokes in the air, kicking on fourth tackle.
"There were some moments we didn't get right and we have been really good at that over the last two months building a game and we didn't do that."