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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2012 grand final rewind: Storm win drama-charged decider

Despite holding the trophy aloft twice in the 13 years since their first title, the history books say Melbourne won their second title in 2012.
The Storm registered a 14-4 defeat of the Canterbury Bulldogs on 2012 grand final night, two years after the salary cap scandal led to them being stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships.
In a match full of controversy, Bulldogs prop James Graham was reported over claims he bit Storm fullback Billy Slater's ear in the 26th minute, leading to both teams scrapping for several minutes as tempers flared. 
The Storm hung on for a gritty win before 82,976 fans, most of them clad in Bulldogs colours.
They were on the board within six minutes after Ryan Hoffman plonked the ball down off a short pass from Gareth Widdop. And they dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes, at one stage enjoying four consecutive sets of six.
But Canterbury soon found themselves on level terms when winger Sam Perrett pounced on a grubber to score in the 24th minute to level it up at 4-4.
 Perrett took exception to the way Slater slid in when he crossed the line and that's when the melee took place.
"You can see the blood on his ear," referee Tony Archer said as he pointed to Slater. And Graham was on report. He was later suspended for the first 12 matches of the 2013 season.
Cooper Cronk engineered two first-half tries to Slater (32nd minute) and centre Justin O'Neill (39th minute).
Despite some spirited efforts by Ben Barba and Michael Ennis, the Storm shut out the Dogs in the second half to claim a deserved victory.
Best player: Cronk. He orchestrated everything the Storm did in attack - from his no-look pass for Slater's try to his perfectly weighted cross-field kick for O'Neill. A superb all-round performance. Ice-cool when he needed to be.
The unsung hero: Gareth Widdop. The Storm five-eighth became the first Englishman in 10 years (since Roosters forward Adrian Morley) to win an NRL title. He set up the Hoffman try and never shirked his duties in defence.
The play of the day: The first-half fracas steeled the Storm, and Slater in particular, who enjoyed his try. They kept their cool.
The what-if moment: O'Neill's try right on half-time would have been demoralising for the Bulldogs. If the Dogs had made it to the break trailing by six points, the second stanza could have been very different.
The quote: Storm captain Cameron Smith: "There was a part of the season where people, a lot of people, were writing us off, but we stuck strong. We just got back to our basics at training and on the field and it happened.
"We were gutted a few years ago, morale wasn't at its highest, but we built this club back up and made it count."
Recollections of a champion: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm): "I remember near the end of the game, there was a scrum, and all the Storm fans were cheering because we had the game locked up. I was getting goosebumps because the crowd were loving that moment."
Recollections of a runner-up: Dale Finucane (Bulldogs): "I think I'd only played 14 games that season, including the grand final. It all happened really fast for me and felt really surreal at the time."
The year after: Melbourne started 2013 with seven straight wins. But they stuttered through the Origin period, and despite finishing third at the end of regular season, lost their first two finals games (to the Rabbitohs and Knights). Canterbury finished sixth but were knocked out during the first week of finals by Newcastle.

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