The Melbourne Storm completed a dominant finals campaign with a crushing 34-6 win in the NRL grand final against the North Queensland Cowboys.
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It was a tough night for the Queensland side from the outset when Shaun Fensom was taken out of the game after a freak accident.
Fensom tried to prevent a break from the Storm but was tangled up with teammate Ethan Lowe. His leg was forced sideways and his grand final was over after just three minutes with a suspected broken tibia.
After a lengthy stoppage, the Storm looked likely to score first despite some bruising defence from Antonio Winterstein.
The first try came in controversial fashion when Cowboy five-eighth Te Maire Martin ran into the referee which may or may not have prevented him from stopping Josh Ado-Carr who streaked away to score after a slick pass from Will Chambers.
From that point on the Storm went about their business with clinical precision.
As usual, it was the kicking game of Cooper Cronk which was on fire – ably supported by his captain Cameron Smith.
Cronk forced a dropout with a well-weighted kick and on the resulting play he was in the action again setting up Felise Kaufusi to give the Melbourne team their second try.
It went from bad to worse for the Cowboys when Winterstein made a meal of a seemingly innocuous Cronk grubber moments later.
Fullback Billy Slater crossed to give Melbourne an 18-point lead at half-time.
After just one penalty in the opening half, the Storm conceded three in a row early in the second.
It gave the Cowboys a rare sniff at the Melbourne try line and Te Maire Martin finally broke through the Storm’s defence to score.
It was the first points the Storm had conceded in 140 minutes of finals football.
The Cowboys began to build pressure but couldn’t make the most of further sets inside the Storm’s 20.
Melbourne lock Dale Finucane all but put the game to bed in the 64th minute with a barge over try on the back of an assist from Smith.
Smith was everywhere in the game and had 41 tackles. He could have easily been awarded the Clive Churchill medal but the honour went to Billy Slater who finished with a try, an assist and 168 run metres.
The night was summed up from the Cowboys when Kane Linnett coughed up the ball coming out of the defence. Curtis Scott accepted the error with glee to score a grand final try in his debut season.
With the game well and truly in the bag the Storm turned into the Harlem Globetrotters with Smith, Cronk, Slater and Tohu Harris combining for a party-trick to set up Addo-Carr for his second.
It was the icing on the cake for the best team of the season.