Storm clinch minor title, Sharks teetering

Ryan Papenhuyzen has rediscovered his sparkle with three tries in a 28-16 defeat of Cronulla that secured Melbourne a fourth NRL minor premiership in six years and ripped the Sharks' finals fate from their hands.

The Storm rested a host of their stars despite a loss to Parramatta last week ending their historic run of 19 straight wins and opening the door for Penrith to potentially snatch the regular season honours.

And the Sharks, needing a win a Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night to confirm a top-eight spot, looked up for the fight when a late try made it 12-12 at halftime on the Gold Coast.

But a Marion Seve try to begin the second half and resurgent Papenhuyzen's second soon after busted the contest open for the reigning premiers.

"By Sunday everyone's forgotten who's won the minor premiership ... but they're like premierships, they're hard to win so it's good reward for the club," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

Melbourne's only concern will be a potential suspension for giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who will come under scrutiny for a late shot in the final stages.

Cronulla centre Connor Tracey's try with five minutes to play could be crucial to the Sharks' finals hopes, given they will only advance if Gold Coast lose or win by less than 12 to the Warriors on Sunday.

The Storm could have broken Cronulla when Papenhuyzen scored with five minutes to play in the first half.

It was the fullback's first try since round six, the No.1 showing glimpses of his best as he continues to find his feet after a seven-game absence due to concussion.

"He took some real steps forward against the Titans then a few steps, I hope he won't mind me saying, back last week," Bellamy said.

"But he was on tonight and he'll take a lot of confidence out of what he did tonight.

"It's good to have Paps back playing like that."

But the Sharks were not deterred, a quick shift right helped by a brilliant William Kennedy tap-on pass that found a flying Sione Katao.

It was Katoa's second try of the game, both equally-impressive put downs just inside the right corner post as the winger underlined his status as one of the best finishers in the game.

Seve's soft try hurt Cronulla though before Harry Grant broke the line to set up Papenhuyzen, who added his third try in the 69th minute when he planted a deft Jahrome Hughes grubber.

Sharks coach Josh Hannay lamented Seve's soft try and a characteristically slow start to the second half in a "tired" performance.

"We wanted to go in the front door (to finals) not try and sneak through the back door ... but we have a pulse," he said.

"We'll be hoping the Warriors play the game of their life on Sunday."

Melbourne made eight changes to their side, resting Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Bromwich brothers Kenny and Jesse and Felise Kaufusi while Josh Addo-Carr was injured.

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