Melbourne Storm give legendary trio the perfect send-off with NRL Grand Final win over North Queensland Cowboys

Alex Broun 2/10/2017
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It’s official. The Melbourne Storm are the premiers – and this time it’s not getting taken away from them. (We hope.)

Having had two premierships stripped because of salary cap rorting this is just the third title for the side from the Victorian capital – and this is one they clearly deserve.

Craig Bellamy’s side lost just four games all season. The only side to better that record since the NRL was formed in 1998 was Bellamy’s own Storm side of 2007 who lost just three games, but that was one of the years that Melbourne were stripped of their title.

So this 2017 Storm side can rightly lay claim to being the greatest ever team to play in the NRL.

Their comfortable 34-6 Grand Final victory over the giant-killing North Queensland Cowboys was built on the back of a trio of vintage stars, who seem to just get better as the years roll by – captain and hooker Cameron Smith, full-back Billy Slater and half-back Cooper Cronk.

The same trio that Queensland’s decade-long dominance of State of Origin has been built around.

The Cowboys battled bravely right to the end but were barely in the contest right from the outset against a Storm side that were clinical and relentless from the opening whistle.

Melbourne wanted to send out Cronk in style in his final game in purple. They did that and more.

It’s fitting that the final club match from the all-star trio saw all three bring their best to the game’s biggest stage, scoring or creating four tries. They got plenty of assistance from their dominant forward pack and some moments of brilliance from exciting young stars like Josh Addo-Carr.

The scoreline reflected the sheer dominance of Melbourne’s performances right from Round 1 this year but did not fairly reflect the effort the Cowboys put into a contest.

The Melbourne Storm completed a dominant season, led by coach Craig Bellamy.

The Melbourne Storm completed a dominant season, led by coach Craig Bellamy.

The match started badly for the men from Townsville with play held up for several minutes while prop Shaun Fensom received medical attention and was taken from the field after just four minutes.

Attempting to stop a charging Jesse Bromwich along with teammate Ethan Lowe, the latter landed awkwardly on Fensom’s ankle. He immediately signaled for the trainer and there was a delay while the 28-year-old was administered pain relief and loaded onto a medicab.

While North Queensland managed to weather the storm, pardon the pun, for the opening 20 minutes, the favourites started to flex their muscle from midway through the half.

First, Will Chambers received a Cowboys tap-back from an attacking bomb near Melbourne’s end and offloaded to speedy winger Addo-Carr who streaked 70 metres to open the scoring.

After a few more sets of dominant yardage and a Smith grubber for a repeat set, Melbourne extended their lead when Felise Kaufusi carved past Te Maire Martin off a nice Slater pass in the 28th minute.

When the Cowboys’ Antonio Winterstein fumbled a Cronk attacking grubber on his own line it set the stage for yet another Storm assault and this time Slater went himself, slicing through an increasingly brittle Cowboys left edge defence to make it 18-0 at the break.

The Cowboys desperately needed to be first to score in the second half against the competition’s best front-runners and they got some help from the Storm, who handed over five straight penalties to camp the Cowboys in attacking range and allow Martin to slice through.

That was as good as it got though as an unstoppable Storm exploded late, in similar fashion to how they put the Broncos to the sword a week earlier in a 30-0 demolition.

Bega-born lock Dale Finucane powered onto a Smith flat ball at the line to burst over in the 64th minute; a simple error from Kane Linnett coughed the ball up to Addo-Carr who offloaded to an unmarked Curtis Scott three minutes later.

Addo-Carr then bagged his double in the 73rd minute after some lovely lead-up work from Cronk and Slater before a beautiful long cut-out from Tohu Harris to seal the dominant 34-6 result.

The legendary Storm trio lingered on the field long after the trophy presentation – and well they deserved it.

To paraphrase one who knew something about great victories, “Here was a team. When comes such another.”

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Sport in the UAE this week - Ice Warrior Challenge, Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Ignite Pink is Punk

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There is no shortage of top sporting events in the Emirates and here’s our one-stop diary of everything that’s going on — welcome to our weekly feature, What’s Up UAE.

Are you attending or participating in one of the following events?

Share your experiences with us, using the hash-tag #whatsupuae on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

ICE WARRIOR CHALLENGE

Friday, October 6

Competitors can put their physical and mental skills to the test in the gruelling Ice Warrior Challenge at Ski Dubai.

This will be the eighth edition of the event and is expected be the toughest yet, with entrants required to climb over ice walls, ascend tangled ropes, drag and push lorry tyres and shovel snow – all while coping with the sub-zero degree conditions.

The winning male and female participants will receive 125,000 Emirates Skywards Miles and other prizes.

The Ice Warrior Challenge is suitable for all fitness levels and open to participants age 16 and up.

VENUE: Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates
MORE INFO: Ice Warrior Challenge

PAKISTAN VS SRI LANKA

Friday, October 6

Sri Lanka edged Pakistan to win the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

With the second Test set to start on Friday, can the Men in Green avenge defeat and rediscover their solid form on UAE soil?

VENUE: Dubai International Stadium
START TIME: 3:30PM
TICKETS: On sale at the venue

IRON STAR INDOOR TRIATHLON

Friday, October 6

GEMS World Academy will host the first indoor triathlon of the event season this Friday, and you don’t want to miss the action!

Athletes from around the UAE have been fully dedicated for this event, and the competition will prove to be a fierce one.

The rules are simple: swim 10 minute, cycle 30 minutes and run 20 minutes – with the aim being to clock as much distance as possible during the allocated time.

VENUE: GEMS World Academy
START TIME: 4.30PM
MORE INFO: Iron Star Indoor Triathlon

ARABIAN GULF CUP

Friday, October 6 – Saturday, October 7

Al Jazira look to put their recent poor run of domestic form behind them when they travel to Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium to face an in-form Al Ain side in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

In the other fixtures, Shabab Al Ahli entertain Sharjah as Cosmin Olaroiu’s side look to keep their grip on the trophy.

MORE INFO: AGL Website

Cosmin Olaroiu.

Cosmin Olaroiu.

IGNITE PINK IS PUNK SWIM RUN

Friday, October 6

There’s still time to register if you want to take part in the eighth edition of the Ignite Pink is Punk Swim: Run event, taking place on Friday.

Taking place at Anantara The Palm Resort in Dubai at 06:00, it promises to be bigger and better with every single penny raised being donated to the Safe and Sound Breast Cancer Awareness Programme.

The Open category consists of 600m swim, 3km beach and pavement run, while the Sprint event is 400m swim and a 1.6km beach and pavement run.

Juniors can enjoy a 200m swim and a 800m beach run, while there is also the Fun Run which consists of 3km beach and pavement run.

VENUE: Anantara The Palm, Dubai
START TIME: 06:00AM

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Where to watch the AFL Grand Final in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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The AFL Grand Final is Australia’s biggest sporting event and on September 30, just about every TV will be tuned into Channel 7 for the big game!

In the UAE, thousands of Australian expats and AFL fans will be crowding around screens in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to watch Richmond in action against Adelaide.

With numerous places to witness the drama unfold, Sport360 has selected our pick of where to watch the action.

Which team would you like to see win the flag?

Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

BARASTI

Where: Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Al Sufouh Road – Jumeirah Beach
Doors Open: 7.30am
Promotions: AED 125 for members/AED 175 for non-members for full buffet breakfast and parking. Deals on drinks until 11am.
Contact details: 043672437
Social media: Facebook

One of the best venues in Dubai to watch the game of the year.

The beach bar will be showing the match on its giant screen, with doors opening at 7.30am.

BIDI BONDI

Where: The Palm Shoreline
Doors Open: 7.30am
Promotions: 
AED 145 for four beverages and a main course
Contact details: 
044270515
Social media: 
Facebook

An Australian sports bar located on Palm Jumeirah, Bodi Bondi has 14 TVs and two giants screen screens to allow for a more cinematic view of the match.

A lively atmosphere is guaranteed at the home of AFL in Dubai.

THE TAP HOUSE

Where: Palm Jumeirah
Doors Open: 7.30am
Contact details: 045143778
Social media: Facebook

Located in the heart of Palm Jumeirah, the Tap House is a chilled out bar with a great atmosphere.

With a spacious surrounding and wide screen plasma televisions you won’t miss any of the action from Grand Final day.

SPORTSMAN’S ARMS

Where: Zayed Sports City
Doors Open: 7.30am
Promotions: 
AED 150 for unlimited soft drinks and water, and three vouchers for beverages.
Contact details: 024034235
Social media: Facebook

Located in the International Tennis Stadium of Zayed Sports City, Sportsmans Arms is a great venue to watch the drama unfold in the capital.

The American/Irish concept restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy food after taking in the thrilling footie action.

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