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NRL Premiership

Melbourne Storm Pic by Matt King Getty Images

Grinners ... Clive Churchill medallist Billy Slater and the Storm. Getty

Melbourne Storm withstand Parramatta Eels in NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium

By staff writers
October 04, 2009

Melbourne Storm have won their second NRL premiership in three seasons, defeating Parramatta 23-16 in the grand final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

The premiership victory, their second from four consecutive grand final appearances, saw the Storm elevate their standing to sit among the greatest rugby league club sides in history, alongside the Parramatta sides of the early 1980s and the Brisbane Broncos sides of the 1990s.

But they had to withstood a furious Parramatta finish to deny the Eels a fairytale finish to cap their run to the decider.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy denied his side needed the win as proof of their dynasty, which shows no sign of ending considering the club also won the Toyota Cup grand final.

"To make these four grand finals was a huge effort," Bellamy said.

"(Greatness) is for other people to judge.

"I just know tonight, I could not have been more proud of what this club has done the last four years.

"They produce when it counts - whether we won tonight or not - I couldn't be prouder of them.

"As far as a coach goes, this is probably the best feeling I've had as a coach to be honest.

This Storm machine was at its best in the decider, grinding the opposition into the ground before unleashing Greg Inglis and Billy Slater.

Not even the relentless defence of Eels veteran Nathan Hindmarsh, who made 62 tackles as he threw his body about in a desperate bid to erase the memory of his 2001 grand final heartache, could keep Parramatta in the contest. 

But Bellamy accepted the 2009 team wasn't his best bunch of players, with his side having been ravaged by the salary cap, but the likes of journeymen Ryan Tandy, Dane Neilsen and Scott Anderson stood tall.

"Back in 2007, we went through as minor premiers easily and we had a wonderful side that year," Bellamy said.

"This is a wonderful side, too, but there's a lot of unknowns.

"It's nice to prove people wrong when they're not saying nice things about you or they're not giving you any chance."

Storm captain Cameron Smith said the win eased the pain of last year's record 40-0 defeat by Manly in the decider.

"We just need the result tonight to help put out the flames," Smith said.

"If you lose one, you really need to win one to put that to bed.

"In a sense of being labelled a great side, I think before the whistle was blown tonight, it's up to you guys (the media) but I think we should definitely be considered one of the great teams."

The Storm took an early vice-like grip on the contest, and they held on tight as they buried the memories of last year's record loss to Manly. But the Eels made the Storm sweat when they scored two tries inside the final 10 minutes to close within a converted try.

Parramatta surged with the support of the vast majority of the 82,538 crowd - the biggest since 2001, when the Eels reached the premiership decider - Joel Reddy scoring off a Jeff Robson bomb before Fuifui Moimoi trampled over several defenders to cross out wide.

"I was going to call for the trainer to get a change of Speedos," Smith said when asked about his feelings when the game became so tight at the death.

Slater then dropped the ball near his own line, presenting the Eels with another invitation, only for Todd Lowrie to be left with the ball on the last tackle when any other option would have been better.

The Storm, on the back of a controversial stripping penalty against Moimoi on Slater, regained their composure before erupting in a series of hugs and high fives as Inglis kicked a field goal to all but secure the result with three minutes on the clock.


"This is all I've ever wanted to do," said history-making Storm five-eighth Brett Finch, who was shown the door by the Eels after four games this year.

"If I did not do it, I would have had something sitting in the bottom of my guts for the rest of my life.

"It doesn't matter who we beat, I said that all week."

Having snowballed their way into the grand final on the back of 10 wins from 11 matches, the Eels went to water on the biggest stage - the Storm scoring after just five minutes through Ryan Hoffman, who ran over Robson in defence.

Having been brilliant against the Bulldogs last week, Robson was a target in defence - and it seemed to affect his attacking game, with the Eels let down by poor last-play options.

The Storm were having no such trouble, and it was no surprise when Cooper Cronk put Adam Blair over for the 10-0 lead they took to half-time.

The Eels came out strongly after the break, Moimoi leading the way with punishing defence, and winger Eric Grothe scored a deserved converted try to reduce the margin to 10-6.

But Melbourne weren't about to give the game away, and they hit back with a double blow through Inglis and Slater after sensational lead-up work by Cronk.

The Eels left their best until last - much as they had done in the season as a whole - but they were unable to finish the job.

Parramatta coach Daniel Anderson said that his side had given Melbourne too much of a start.

"We had a go but we were punished for our mistakes," Anderson said.

"They didn't make that many breaks, but, when they did make them, they scored.

"They are a great side. They do that."

Eels captain Nathan Cayless said, when asked to compare the loss with 2001, when Parramatta lost the grand final as favourites to Newcastle Knights, said "they all hurt".

"It's a dream to win a grand final," Cayless said.

"This probably makes you realise how hard it is."


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NRL: R 30, Game 1 Full-time

Storm 23
Eels 16
Ryan Hoffman 5m
Adam Blair 24m
Greg Inglis 49m
Billy Slater 55m
Eric Grothe 45m
Joel Reddy 70m
Fuifui Moimoi 72m
Cameron Smith 7m
Cameron Smith 51m
Cameron Smith 57m
Field Goals
Greg Inglis 77m
Luke Burt 46m
Luke Burt 70m
Field Goals

NRL Grand Final Clock

    5min: Melbourne second-rower Ryan Hoffman scores the opening try after beating the defence of Parramatta halfback Jeff Robson, Storm 4-0.
    6min: Storm captain Cameron Smith converts Hoffman's try, Storm 6-0.
    24min: Cooper Cronk slices through the Eels' defence and offloads to Blair, who touches down in the right corner, Storm 10-0.
    26min: Smith misses conversion from 20 metres out.
    32min: Parramatta awarded penalty for Storm error at the play the ball.
    33min: A forward pass from centre Joel Reddy to winger Eric Grothe cruels the Eels' best tryscoring opportunity of the half.
    34min: Reddy stays down after coming off second-best in a tackle on former Eel Brett Finch.
    38min: Eels veteran Nathan Hindmarsh shoves Storm halfback Cronk from behind in the back and forces him to lose the ball on the 30-metre line.
    40min: Forward pass by the Storm hands possession to the Eels. Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne opts to chip a kick to Grothe's wing, but the ball sails over the touchline.
    Half-time: Storm lead 10-0.

    42min: Eels prop Fuifui Moimoi puts a huge hit on Storm prop Brett White.
    44min: Eels interchange utility Feleti Mateo breaks through the Storm defence and is brought down 10 metres from the line.
    45min: Eric Grothe barges past several defenders to score Parramatta's first try in the right corner of the field, Storm 10-4.
    46min: Eels winger Luke Burt converts Grothe's try, Storm 10-6.
    49min: Storm centre Greg Inglis brilliantly latches on to a bomb amid confused defence and scores under the posts, Storm 14-6
    51min: Smith converts Inglis's try, Storm 16-6.
    54min: Mateo loses the ball trying to offload, handing possession to Melbourne.
    55min: Storm fullback Billy Slater scores a try, capitalising on a great break and pass from Adam Blair, Storm 20-6.
    58min: Smith converts Slater's try, Storm 22-6.
    68min: Eels given penalty for Storm markers not being direct at the play the ball.
    70min: Reddy beats two Storm defenders in the air to score Parramatta's second try, Storm 22-10.
    71min: Burt converts Reddy's try, Storm 22-12.
    72min: Moimoi makes a powerful 20-metre run to barge over for a try in the left corner, grounding the ball despite being wrapped up by Turner and Slater, Storm 22-16.
    73min: Burt misses conversion attempt.
    76min: Moimoi harshly penalised for a tackle on Slater, despite the Storm fullback spilling the ball.
    76min: Inglis snaps wonky field goal to effectively seal the premiership for Storm, Storm 23-16.
    Full-time: Storm 23-16.

The Road To The NRL Grand Final

Grand Final
Melbourne Storm 23
Parramatta 16
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
First Preliminary Final
Parramatta 22
Bulldogs 12
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Second Preliminary Final
Melbourne Storm 40
Brisbane Broncos 10
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
First Semi-Final
Parramatta 27
Gold Coast Titans 2
Sydney Football Stadium
Second Semi-Final
Brisbane Broncos 24
St George Illawarra 10
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Qualifying Finals

First Qualifying Final
Melbourne Storm 40
Manly 12
Etihad Stadium
Second Qualifying Final
Gold Coast Titans 32
Brisbane Broncos 40
Skilled Park
Robina, Gold Coast
Third Qualifying Final
Bulldogs 26
Newcastle Knights 12
ANZ Stadium
Fourth Qualifying Final
St George Illawarra 12
Parramatta 25
WIN Jubilee Oval
Kogarah, Sydney



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