NRL Grand Final 2012: BROWNIE – Storm execute under pressure
The Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater (left) scores a try against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs during the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
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Whilst it’s undeniable that both Des Hasler and Craig Bellamy are two of the smartest coaches in the NRL, it was the Melbourne Storm who better managed to execute their game plan in the often-emotional atmosphere of last night’s NRL decider.
In an exciting first half, the Storm time and time again managed to take the Bulldogs’ quick-shift plays out of the game by putting pressure on their big boppers Sam Kasiano and Frank Pritchard, which resulted in strike players Josh Morris and Ben Barba seeing little of the ball.
Not that they were completely alone here. Melbourne were able to control the flow of possession to such an high extent in the first half that the Bulldogs saw only 38 percent of the ball.
The Storm’s high completion rate and repeat sets kicking game meant that the Dogs rarely had any time in attack in which to build pressure.
The result of this was some unscheduled interchanges for coach Des Hasler, and a building sense of frustration which Canterbury seemed to carry with them for much of the match.
When the blue and whites did receive some ball in the second half they were unable to capitalise, and at times their relatively inexperienced halves pairing lacked some options in attack.
When you compare this to Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk, who was able to manufacture three Storm three tries, and big contributions the from other members of the Storm’s ‘big three’, Melbourne always looked to be in control without ever completely pulling away from the Bulldogs.
It’s a pretty big footy cliché but big players win big games, and the cool heads of Melbourne’s old firm ultimately secured them their much desired redemption title.
And let’s hope the NRL isn’t too harsh on poor old James Graham, I think he might have just been caught up in the moment a bit – although I’m not sure what to expect at the St Helens canteen next year!
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