NRL 2020: Kiwi Jahrome Hughes inspires Melbourne Storm into Grand Final, as Cameron Smith given farewell

A near-perfect first-half along with an influential performance from Kiwi Jahrome Hughes has propelled the Melbourne Storm to the NRL Grand Final, beating the Canberra Raiders 30-10 in their preliminary qualifier on Friday night. 

The game was all but over after just 10 minutes as the Storm raced out to an 18-0 lead, and they never looked back.

The Raiders tried their best to get back into the match, but they were no match for the Storm, who will play their fourth Grand Final in five years. 

Hughes put on a masterclass performance, coming up with two try assists in the win, and the halfback earned high praise from Storm coach Craig Bellamy after the match. 

"I asked for him to be more involved earlier tonight," said Bellamy. 

"In the Eels game, he let things flow too much instead of backing himself. He backed himself tonight and we got rewarded for that. 

"He's a talented player, it took him a while to find his best portion and his confidence. He's got lots of ability and we just need to keep encouraging him and take the options he sees." 

While Hughes dominated on the field, captain Cameron Smith was grabbing all the attention off it as he was chaired from the field by his teammates, the biggest indication yet that the rugby league legend will hang up his boots at the end of the season. 

The 37-year-old said Bellamy was behind the lap of honour at Suncorp Stadium. 

Smith insists he's unsure if he will retire of play on next season 

"I can't tell you. I don't know  [if I'll retire]," said Smith. 

"All I'm worried about this year is trying to play well and just enjoy watching these young fellas grow as footballers and grow as men.

Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith. Photo credit: Getty

"I've been very fortunate in my career to be involved in some really big games with the Storm and lucky enough to win some premierships along the way.

"There's a lot of guys starting out their career that haven't had that opportunity yet and I'm just enjoying their success at the moment and sharing their journey. I haven't thought past that."

Bellamy said he thought it would be a touching moment just in case it is Smith's last game. If Smith is to retire, he would hang up his boots as the NRL's record-holder for most games (429) and points (2722).

The Storm will face either the Penrith Panthers or South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Grand Final. 

Meanwhile for the Raiders, the loss ended their chance of playing in back-to-back Grand Finals. 

Coach Ricky Stuart was ao disappointed he didn't field any questions from the media, instead, he read a short statement before walking off.