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Roosters to meet Panthers in Nines final

NZN 4/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion and Scott Bailey

The Sydney Roosters will meet Penrith in the Auckland Nines final after Bernard Lewis scored a last-gasp 80-metre try in his team's thrilling 21-16 semi-final win.

Melbourne had looked to have booked their spot in the decider when Mark Nicholls stole the lead with a couple of minutes remaining at Eden Park.

But the Storm then gave Lewis an inch on the sideline from the kickoff, and the flyer burnt Storm captain Young Tonumaipea to deliver the Roosters into their maiden nines final.

"I thought the game was over. The boys dug deep and held on and luckily we got that try in the end," first-grade star Daniel Tupou said.

There they will meet the Panthers, who didn't even want to be in the tournament.

Penrith boss Brian Fletcher was openly critical in the lead-up to the event regarding the club's requirement to risk the club's NRL stars in the shortened format.

But despite only bringing first-grade guns Nathan Cleary and James Tamou, the Panthers have gone through undefeated to also get their first shot at the trophy.

Penrith were the first team through after Waqa Blake scored twice in their 15-0 shutout of Parramatta, who were without injured captain Corey Norman.

The Eels star was a game-eve withdrawal from a hamstring injury.

Penrith had early progressed to the knockout stages after going through the group round undefeated, earning a third win with a 22-4 win over Gold Coast on day two.

Under-20s prodigy Tyrone May then fired them into the final four with a golden-try in an exciting g16-12 win over Manly.

The Roosters were gifted a passage to the semi-finals after Brisbane kicker Jordan Kahu's successful conversion was frozen out by the shot clock in a dramatic 16-15 quarter-final loss.

"I just thought I got it away in time but obviously not," Kahu said.

"It's pretty tough. You're used to a couple of minutes when you kick and the 30 seconds starts as soon as you score. It's pretty short."

Sydney won two of their three pool games, including a 21-0 wipeout of Canberra on Sunday.

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