Raiders upset Storm to book NRL prelim

Canberra are within one game of their first NRL grand final appearance in 25 years after shocking minor premiers Melbourne in a chaotic qualifying final at AAMI Park.

Second-rower John Bateman scored in the 76th minute on Saturday night to lock up the match at 10-10 before co-captain Jarrod Croker calmly slotted the conversion for the 12-10 victory.

The Raiders will now have next weekend off before hosting their preliminary final while the Storm will next Saturday night host the winner of Sunday's Parramatta-Brisbane elimination final to keep their season alive.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart praised his team's composure, which he said had been key to their charge into the finals.

"You can only have composure if you have belief ... you can't have it if you're showing poor emotions and panicking and it's something that's helped us through a number of tight games," Stuart said.

"The work we've put into it has helped us win some games."

Melbourne looked as if they had done enough to take the spoils but the Raiders never stopped coming.

Winger Josh Addo-Carr spilt the ball in a tackle that then found its way on to Bateman for the match-winner.

Winger Suliasi Vunivalu was then dubiously ruled to have gone into touch while taking the ball on the restart, which effectively ended their chances.

Regardless, the Raiders deserved the win.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said his team struggled to find any rhythm.

"A few things didn't go our way and we didn't make a few things go our way," Bellamy said.

"We struggled with our completions and doing what we planned to do."

There was drama before kick-off when Canberra centre Joey Leilua suffered an eye injury from pyrotechnics as he ran on to the field.

He was unable to take his place in the starting side and had some plastic removed from his eye before coming on in the 20th minute.

Stuart wasn't pointing fingers at anyone, putting it down to bad luck.

But he thought the footy gods were on his side when Leilua's replacement Bailey Simonsson scored in the fourth minute as the Storm were caught short out wide.

"Luck is a big thing in these big games and we had a bit of luck tonight having Bailey on the bench. It would have been absolutely catastrophic if I didn't carry an outside back on the bench," Stuart said.

"I've been sitting here many times when the footy gods haven't been kind to us but tonight, having Bailey there and the contribution of his performance was great."

Two Raiders were put on report in the first half - winger Jordan Rapana for a lifting tackle on Cameron Munster and lock Joe Tapine for a chicken wing tackle on Brandon Smith.

They also lost winger Nick Cotric for the match in the 20th minute after he suffered a broken nose and cut lip.

But the gutsy Raiders, who also went from an 18-0 deficit in round 22 to upset Melbourne, still managed to take a 6-2 lead into halftime.

After a slew of errors and penalties in the first half, Melbourne looked more like themselves after the break and hit the front three minutes in.

Halfback Jahrome Hughes put up a high ball for Vunivalu to score their first try.

With a penalty either side, Melbourne were out to a 10-6 lead, which against most teams would be enough but the Raiders weren't to be denied.