The Melbourne Storm have ended Parramattas fairytale run to the Grand Final and atoned for last years loss, taking out the 2009 Telstra Premiership 23 points to 16.
Melbourne put forward a clinical and professional display in defeating the Eels, playing the simple but effective game they've been renowned for over the past few years - the style of game that has taken them to four consecutive Grand Finals, and two Premierships.
Parramatta fought back from a 10-0 halftime deficit, and 22-6 halfway through the second half, to get within six points, but a Greg Inglis field goal with two minutes remaining broke the hearts of the majority-Parramatta crowd, who were hoping their team would be able to ride the wave of the eleven consecutive victories that got them to the Grand Final.
Melbourne started the game srongly, with Ryan Hoffman crossing for the opening try in just the fifth minute. Finch ran to the line, drew in Jeff Robson before passing out to Hoffman who powered past Robson, then weaved around Jarryd Hayne on his way to the line.
Parramatta regained their composure from that point, and began to get some decent field position. However, they were let down by poor fifth tackle options that either went dead or were caught on the full in-goal.
Parramatta continued to pressure the Storm's line, but were unable to capitalise on any field position they had, and were sent into the sheds facing a 10-0 scoreline.
Coming out of the break, Eels coach Daniel Anderson showed he wanted to try and bash the Storm off the park by introducing star prop Fuifui Moimoi back into the game earlier than expected. This tactic proving dividends when Moimoi left his mark on the Storm prop Brett White, sending him flying backwards from a massive hit early in the half.
Moimoi then transferred his dominance to the attacking side of things, helping the Eels to get a roll-on that would eventually see Feleti Mateo make a long incision down the left touchline in the 45th. From the ensuing play the Eels spread the ball wide out to Eric Grothe, who used his sheer strength to barge over Billy Slater for the Eels first try.
The Storm hit back immediately through star centre Greg Inglis, who collected a Cronk bomb that no-one else on the field seemed intent on contesting, then simply walked over the line for the try.
The Storm then extended their lead with another soft try, this time scored by fullback Slater after Blair broke clean through the line in the 55th.
The Eels threw everything they had at the Storm, yet continually came up shot either through poor options or just plain fantastic defence.
It wasn't until the 69th that the Eels were finally able to cross the line again, this time through Grothe's partner in crime Joel Reddy, who flew high above the pack to collect Robsons cross-field kick.
Following the try Coach Anderson immediately got Moimoi back out there, and he had an immediate effect, making two bulloking runs in a length of the field set by the Eels, the second of which provided the human battering ram with a try of his own, and one of the greater Grand Final tries in recent memory.
However it was all too little, too late for the Eels as they watched their fairytale run come to a halt with a wobbly field goal from the boot of Inglis.
Melbourne Storm 23 def Parramatta Eels 16
NRL Grand Final - Sunday October 4th, 2009 05:10pm Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush Referee: Tony Archer & Shayne Hayne
Sideline Officials: Paul Holland and David Abood
Video Referee: Bill Harrigan Crowd: 82538 Halftime: Melbourne Storm 10 Parramatta Eels 0
Melbourne Storm 23
Tries: Ryan Hoffman, Adam Blair, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater
Field Goals: Greg Inglis (1/1)
Goals: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Parramatta Eels 16
Tries: Eric Grothe, Joel Reddy, Fuifui Moimoi
Goals: Luke Burt (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the NRL Grand Final as it happens - forum discussion - click here!
Well, here we are folks. After 26 competition rounds, and three rounds of finals the Grand Final is upon us. Sixteen teams started, now only two remain. The Melbourne Storm - grand finalists for the last four years in a row, are looking to make it two wins from those four, for a total of three Premierships in their very short history. Then we have their opponents, the Parramatta Eels. The team who halfway through the season looked doomed to be battled for the wooden spoon, now find themselves with a chance at making history by becoming the first eigth placed team to win the Grand Final since the McIntyre System was implemented.
The teams for todays game are as follows: Melbourne Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Will Chambers 4. Greg Inglis 5. Dane Nielsen 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Brett White 8. Cam Smith 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Adam Blair 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 15. Jeff Lima 16. Ryan Tandy 17. Scott Anderson Parramatta Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Luke Burt 3. Krisnan Inu 4. Joel Reddy 5. Eric Grothe 6. Daniel Mortimer 7. Jeff Robson 8. Nathan Cayless [C] 9. Matthew Keating 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Nathan Hindmarsh 12. Ben Smith 13. Todd Lowrie Interchange: 14. Kevin Kingston 15. Feleti Mateo 16. Joe Galuvao 17. Tim Mannah
Stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com, the kickoff to the last NRL game of the season is coming up shortly!
Both teams are out on the field. The Eels were greeted with a mighty cheer, while the Storm were met with a chorus of boos. Only the National Anthem to go, and then the Grand Final of 2009 will be underway!
0 min: And we're underway! Parramatta to get first use of the ball.
1 min: Cronk puts the cross field kick up and the ball is taken beautifully by Eric Grothe under heavy pressure.
3 min: Smith kicks in behind the line and catches Hayne out of position. Hayne retrieves the ball in the in-goal, but gets taken down by Slater for a goal line dropout.
7 min: Inu has had the ball knocked out in the tackle, but it's ruled loose carry. More early defensive pressure for the Eels coming up here.
8 min: PENALTY - Eels: Parramatta get the first penalty of the game after Blair strips the ball from Hindmarsh with two in the tackle. Parra up on halfway.
9 min: Hayne chips over to the corner, and Slater and Turner show cool heads to shepard the ball dead in goal.
12 min: PENALTY - Eels: Another penalty to the Eels, and another one against Blair, this time for a lazy high shot on Inu. Parra up over halfway.
13 min: Hayne tries to get some of his famous fancy footwork going, but the Storm are wise to it and round him up, making him lose metres in the process.
15 min: Parramatta have shown their hand early, chipping over to Turners wing for the third time. Turner proving so far that he's up to the task.
17 min: Inglis uses his sheer strength to evade a couple of tacklers, but in trying to force the pass loses the ball forward and Parramatta come up with it.
20 min: Cronk kicks once again to Grothe's wing, but Grothe takes the ball safely and returns the ball for an extra ten to give his side a good start to their set.
21 min: Following some big runs by Hayne and Lowrie, Robson found himself in great position to put up a mid-field bomb that was taken cleanly by Inu, but lost forward when he offloaded back to Galuvao
22 min: PENALTY - Storm: Melbourne get their first penalty of the game, and will start a set just on halfway.
24 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Cronk busted through the line on the 40, then drew Hayne towards the sideline before passing back in to Blair to extend the lead for the Storm. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 10-0
28 min: Ingils puts up a chip to the in-goal on the last, then gets taken out on suspicion. The refs rule there's nothing in it so the Eels get a restart on the 20.
29 min: Mortimer makes a clean break, and is away for the prize were it not for a lovely tackle from behind by Chambers.
31 min: PENALTY - Eels: Parra get a relieving penalty, and will now start a fresh set inside the Storm's half.
32 min: Parra play hot potato with the ball, and Grothe ends up with the ball, pressing hard for the line but is called back for a forward pass from Reddy.
36 min: Parra are starting to look a bit lazy around the ruck, with the Storm making big metres whenever they have the ball.
37 min: Great pressure by Hindmarsh, getting to Cronk before he is able to get away his kick on the last. That marks Hindmarsh's 38th tackle in the game...keeping up with the clock so far.
39 min: Melbourne try and keep the ball alive, wanting another try before halftime, but are called back for a forward pass.
40 min: Hayne chips to Grothe with the last play of the half, but the ball beats him into touch.
Melbourne are doing everything they're renowned for. Getting through their sets with little fuss. Kicking into open space. Defending strongly. And being flash only when needed. It's the type of clinical display that has seen them make the Grand Final four years in a row. Parramatta aren't out of it though. They've shown glimpses of the exciting form that has carried them into this game, however they've also shown signs of inexperience through players like Mortimer and Robson. Their fifth tackle options are killing them, with all their kicks either going dead or being caught on the full in-goal. It's up to experience campaigners like Cayless and Hindmarsh to tell these players to cool their heads and play their game without trying to make the big play everytime they get the ball.
40 minutes left in the season, will the Storm continue to grind away this victory, or will Parra turn on the razzle dazzle for a famous victory? Stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com to find out!
40 min: And we're underway! 40 minutes until we know who this years premiers are going to be.
40 min: PENALTY - Storm: Early penalty for the Storm after Galuvao is caught not square at marker.
41 min: Moimoi comes up with a big hit on White that sends White rocketing back.
42 min: Hayne puts in a kick that turns Slater around, but Slater still manages to beat a couple of tacklers before being rounded up.
44 min: Mateo makes a big incision down the left side, slicing in between two defenders and racing away before being rounded up ten out from the Storm line.
45 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Following the Mateo break, the Eels work their way across field to Eric Grothe, who uses his sheer strength to power through the defence and over Slater for Parra's first try of the night. Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Melbourne Storm 10-6
48 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Cronk once again kicks up towards Grothe's wing, but this time Inglis races through and takes it on the full, then crosses over to take the Storm out to a ten point lead again. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 16-6
52 min: The Eels string some passes together and Galuvao eventually finds himself in open pastures before the defence converges. The Eels then ran it on the last, ending with Reddy tackled in possession just five out from the line.
54 min: Moimoi comes up with another big hit, this time on Anderson.
55 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Blair broke clean through the line, then found Slater in support to further extend this lead for the Storm. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 22-6
58 min: Mateo sends Burt down the sideline, but Turner makes a lovely cover tackle to drag him into touch.
61 min: Robson sends the ball up high on the last and Slater takes is wonderfully despite heavy pressure from Hayne.
62 min: Parra looked to be building nicely, turning the ball back inside a few times to try and find the Storm short on the outside, but the last pass just gets away from Mateo.
65 min: Inglis makes another break down the left side then throws the ball back inside where Finch puts it on the toe and it's cleaned up in-goal by Lowrie.
66 min: PENALTY - Eels: The Eels get a penalty off the line dropout after the short kick doesn't go ten, but the Storm make a play at it before it crosses the plane.
67 min: PENALTY - Eels: Another penalty to the Eels, this one for markers not square. Parramatta with a full set ten out from the Storm goal line, and need to score here if they're any chance.
69 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Robson kicks over to Grothes wing on the last, but it's Reddy that flies high and takes the ball, then plants it immediately to get the Eels back in with a chance, pending the conversion from Burt. Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Melbourne Storm 22-12
71 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Eels Try... Moimoi has bullocked over for a try, just checking grounding.
71 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Moimoi has been back on the field for all of 30 seconds, and has already made two massive runs as the Eels went the length of the field, including a twenty metre dash to the line that scattered defenders like they were bowling pins. Conversion attempt by Luke Burt unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 22-16
74 min: Hayne put up a high bomb that Slater has knocked on! Scrum Eels 12 out from the line...hold onto your hats folks!
76 min: PENALTY - Storm: Moimoi takes Slater down in a fantastic tackle, but is ruled to have had a second dig as Slater lost the ball. Replays show Slater just lost it cold.
Congratulations Melbourne Storm - 2009 NRL Premiers!