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Cameron Munster field goal snatches qualifying final victory for Storm over Rabbitohs

Cameron Munster has snatched an extraordinary one-point victory for the Melbourne Storm, with the superstar five-eighth kicking a late field goal to sink the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Munster nailed a 31-metre field goal to send a raucous crowd of 17,306 at AAMI Park into raptures in a nail-biting contest against Souths.

Trailing by six points going into halftime in the NRL's opening qualifying final, the Storm found another gear and ripped the game open with a couple of moments of genius to secure a week off and yet another home preliminary final.

Melbourne's seven-point burst in the last eight minutes saved the NRL's blushes with a Rabbitohs try that looked like it could win the game for the visitors resulting from a controversial forward pass call that would have dominated the headlines.

Instead it was the Storm's trademark finals class that shone through in a 29-28 victory that Nine commentator Paul Vautin described as "one of the best finals I've ever seen".

"We were really happy with the way it ended up but we were probably lucky to win and they were unlucky to lose - it could have gone either way," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

"My main emotion is how proud I am of the team tonight."

The last thing the NRL wanted was the first big final of the year being overshadowed by controversy, but that's just what looked like happening when Josh Addo-Carr was pinged for a forward pass with the scores level late in the game.

Souths youngster Cameron Murray dived over a couple of plays later and the Rabbitohs looked home.

But champions as they are, the Storm found their way off the ropes in their next set, with a typical play for Billy Slater out the back creating space out wide and an in-field kick off the side of Addo-Carr's boot turned him from villain to hero as Cheyse Blair slid onto the loose ball over the try line.

Smith made no mistake with the extras this time and with the two sides once again locked together it was the Storm who found the edge with another spread opening the Rabbitohs' defence up and giving them field position to set up a field-goal.

Enter Munster, who struck with one of the ugliest field-goals you'll ever see. They all count the same on the scoreboard.

The Rabbitohs now wait on the winner of Sunday's elimination final between Brisbane and St George Illawarra to keep their season alive next week.

The Storm had to come from behind five times in an absorbing contest, and also had to overcome a number of controversial refereeing decisions, to claim the win.

Blair and Suliasi Vunivalu both finished with doubles, while Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis did his best to inspire his side to also nab a double.

It was an explosive start to the qualifying final, with the hosts forcing an error in their first defensive set that almost ended in an opening try for Slater.

But the retiring fullback grounded a grubber on the dead-ball line, to which the Rabbitohs responded through an aerial raid for Dane Gagai to post first points.

The ferocious collisions kept on coming with Sam Burgess jolting the ball free on an early play, while Inglis also had the wind knocked out of him by Vunivalu not long after.

Poor defensive reads by the Rabbitohs, sandwiched by a stadium-shaking Kaufusi shot on Sam Burgess, ended in back-to-back Storm tries to Scott and Vunivalu and their first lead. The visitors regained the lead on a bizarre 37th-minute Inglis try, where Vunivalu gave up on the play as he appealed for an offload from the ground from Jennings.

But Storm halfback Brodie Croft - a last-minute inclusion for Jahrome Hughes - broke the game open with a 70-metre line-break and grubber for Vunivalu on the stroke of halftime.

And it appeared the Storm were on their way when George Burgess was sin-binned for a professional foul that resulted in Cameron Smith kicking the Storm to a six-point lead.

However the Rabbitohs rebounded with back-to-back tries, only for the Storm to once again prove their big-game quality with another strong finish.

Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds came off with a shoulder injury moments before the break but took the field upon resumption with what was described as a shoulder sprain.

Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold said his team were taught a lesson in finals football.

"They showed us in the key moments how to play finals footy," Seibold said.

"They put us under pressure with it. In some ways we did to them also - we scored five tries, made more metres than them.

"A couple of key moments, one on halftime and one towards the back end of the game ... we'll learn from that."

- with AAP



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Cameron Munster field goal snatches qualifying final victory for Storm over Rabbitohs

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