Felise Kaufusi made more tackles than any other player on the field and he made every single one of them count. He defended for the entire 80-minutes like a man possessed and set the tone for the entire team. If you needed proof that this Melbourne Storm team went up a notch when finals football arrived, Felise Kaufusi is it.
It was in this minute of the game that Brodie Croft showed he was a future star in the making. The 21-year-old side-stepped Sam Burgess to shoot clean through the Rabbitohs line before putting in a mercurial 40-metre grubber kick that sat up perfectly for Suliasi Vunivalu to run through, score and hand Storm the momentum at half-time. Croft ended the game with 117 metres, eight tackle breaks and one try assist. To perform like that in a clutch final will give the youngster a world of confidence.
When you make that many Preliminary finals over the course of 13 years it is an incredibly impressive statistic. Craig Bellamy and his men have managed to maintain a standard and hunger for consistency that is largely unmatched in Australian sport. Despite making so many of them, every Preliminary final means just as much because this side is well aware of the opportunity that is at stake and that will be their sole focus for the next two weeks.
The unbeaten streak continues against the Rabbitohs in Melbourne. That is now 15-nil for Storm going up against South Sydney on their home paddock. Few wins would have been more important or more thrilling than this one.