Cronk leads Melbourne to Grand Final in milestone game


Cooper Cronk marked his 300th NRL appearance with a try as Melbourne Storm advanced to the Grand Final by beating Canberra Raiders 14-12 at AAMI Park.

The 32-year-old half-back became the 25th player to reach the milestone, inspiring the minor premiers to come from behind to set up a date with Cronulla Sharks next Sunday.

Cronk spilled when he diving to the line in an attempt to notch the opening score and, at the other end, Jordan Rapana stretched across in the corner in the 23rd minute - setting a new Canberra record with his 23rd try of the season - after Cameron Smith had put Melbourne ahead with a penalty.

However, Cronk hit back nine minutes later, wrapping both arms around the ball and forcing his way over the whitewash, with Smith's conversion securing an 8-6 lead at half-time.

Melbourne were boosted by a yellow card for Jack Wighton when the Raiders' full-back held Marika Koroibete down following his 70-metre sprint, and Cheyse Blair took full advantage with a try from the following set.

Blair was denied a second for an obstruction, and Canberra set up a tense finale through Elliott Whitehead's score with four minutes remaining after being returned to their full complement.

However, they were unable to find the minimum of two points needed to force extra time, putting the Storm one match away from a third premiership.