Melbourne move into NRL grand final

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    While Melbourne’s NRL grand final berth never looked in doubt from the opening whistle of their 40-12 preliminary final win over Manly, coach Craig Bellamy said he questioned his ability to steer his team to the title decider.

    Bellamy admitted after the crushing victory that a five-game losing streak late in the season tested his belief.

    The Storm emphatically answered those concerns at AAMI Park, thoroughly outplaying the defending champions as they ran in six tries to two.

    After being stripped of titles in 2007 and 2009 for cheating the salary cap the Storm have a chance to win a legitimate title at ANZ Stadium on September 30 against either Canterbury or South Sydney.

    With the exception of their skipper Jamie Lyon, who scored a try in each half, Manly could hardly have played worse, with the fierce rivalry between the sides falling flat.

    Manly started the match with an error on the second tackle and that set the tone for a miserable night as they suffered their first grand final qualifier loss since 1975.

    Coach Geoff Toovey said the team was “gutted” to deliver such a disappointing performance.

    “I don’t mind the loss, we’ve had a fantastic season but to finish on that note with such a poor display; the players are really gutted,” he said.

    “We were way off the mark.”

    Melbourne superstars, fullback Billy Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk, showed how much they love the big stage, both scoring a double.

    “We were all tested a little bit and certainly I was questioning myself and what I was doing with the team,” Bellamy said.

    “Was I playing my role as well as I could and did I have to change a few things … you’re always asking yourself more questions when you go through a period like that.”

    Skipper Cameron Smith said the team continued to work hard and were now reaping the rewards.

    He said the loss of the two titles didn’t make this grand final any more special.

    “It’s always nice to make a grand final given what you have to go through during the season.

    “I’m really pleased this team’s been able to make it.”

    Such was their dominance, the Storm should have had the match wrapped up by halftime but only led 12-6 thanks to some uncharacteristically wayward kicking by Smith and Lyon’s try in the 37th minute.

    But Cronk’s second, coming four minutes into the second half, saw Manly heads drop again.

    After two controversial decisions by the video referee favoured Manly against North Queensland, they were on the receiving end at the nine minute mark.

    Centre Will Chambers was tackled just short of the line and Slater picked up the ball from dummy half and dived across the line with video referees Russell Smith and Sean Hampstead ruling a “benefit of the doubt” try despite him appearing to knock it on.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:17am
      Dayer said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Storm to win their 4th premiership title … I disregard the farse about their stripped 07, 09 titles. They are the true champions of those two years. no cheat done by the “developed” players except by the management. same players raised by the storms and not bought from other clubs. even if you paid them 1 dollar they would have still WON 07 and 09.

      No help from the NRL towards Storm to help them bring the greatest game to the AFL mad state. They done it all on their own.

      The so called Sydney clubs that have been around for decades must be JEALOUS of the Storm who only started in 1998.
      What a champion club.. by the way I support the Broncos and I must admit that I am a bit jealous of the storm too.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:08am
      Manly Man said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Yeah the storm players had no idea that they were basically signing two contracts. The poor guillable storm players. And everyone is so jealous of the storm they get to live in victoria they have Craig Bellamy for a coach and I’m sooooooo jealous that manly have won 8 times as many premierships as the storm. Great job on developing your own players storm Billy Slater QLD , Greg Inglis NSW, Cooper Cronk QLD and Cameron Smith QLD, Garreth Widdop, England. Those players were your superstars none of them from VIC

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:40am
        Meesta Cool said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        Manly Man, You are a sad excuse for a RL fan mate!… Your team failed to show up, (for whatever reason)..

        Storm did to you, what you did to them when they turned up for a grand Final bruised, battered and captainless. Admire your team for their achievements this year as much as I do, — I was VERY afraid that Manly would run over us again. The last two games beat you last night! end of story…

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:30am
        Silvertails said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Manly supporters will whinge and whinge. If the storm entered the competition in 1947 they would have won more than 8 premierships.
        I laugh when it is mentioned about the development of players as Manly’s history indicates that most of their past and present players where signed up from England, New Zealand and Queensland. Manly supporters are biased and half the time their comments don’t make any sense.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 11:03am
        Boomshanka said | September 22nd 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Mahae Fonua

        Born and bred Victorian started with the team last night (nearly scoring the first try).

        The development of talent such as Fonua in an AFL dominated town shouldn’t be forgotten. Sure the Storm started in 1998, but they have inspired plenty of youngsters to play the game in the southern capital. With improved TV coverage (instead of being shunted to post midnight slots) this will only snowball.

        Also worthy of note here, is the attendance in Melbourne for the two finals games thus far have been 19,750 and 25,543 which contrasts strongly with Manly’s effort last week against the Cowboys (16,678).

        From little things, big things grow.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahe_Fonua

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 11:29am
          Andrew said | September 22nd 2012 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          yea not bad for a one club town……

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:29am
      Meesta Cool said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      To all the Manly fans who gloated about the 40-0 scoreline in 2008,

      This was a carbon copy, tonight Manly were worn out by three successive hard games, playing a team that is coming into form with a week off to relax and repair injuries. — same scenerio as Grand Final!. same result!. yup 40 is a relativly easy achievement against a worn out, injury ridden team… I will not gloat!.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 9:15am
        Andrew said | September 22nd 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        40- 0 and you cheated! 😉

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:38am
          Meesta Cool said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Yup we cheated and maybe so did you!.. look back at the two sides.. one bought (With big pay packets and luxury homes. the other a bunch of young kids ,well coached and deserving of the pay for their efforts.

          — The world believes that Manly rorted that year also. it was just never brought to light!. wake up you guys your clubs are cheating, they just haven’t been found out! most are smart enough not to get ‘dobbed in’ or keep a second set of books.

          How about a conspiracy theory that those books were kept by a undercover NSW inplant, so that Storm would be found out and DESTROYED. — IT FAILED!. Two years later Smith Cronk and Slater have a new team around them and are still tops!.

          By the way.. don’t forget that Inglis was named as a major player in the rort and he is now ‘lauded as Souths Messiah!. — anybody looked at their books yet?. something smelly in NRL Land!.

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 11:27am
            Andrew said | September 22nd 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            ah everything is a conspiracy. 🙂

            • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:15pm
              Meesta Cool said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

              It happens mate!.. but most of us are too naive to think so!..

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:26am
      bob manskie said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      remember the word karma. manly got to feel how the cowboys felt last week . what goes round comes round. billy says to keiran i didnt drop it ha ha

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