Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and chief executive Dave Donaghy are among those taking big pay cuts to help keep the club afloat during the NRL shutdown.
The Melbourne Storm had the season that coaches and fans alike can only dream of.
More 2017 NRL Grand Final
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» Watch video highlights from the match
Of course, it would have meant nothing if they couldn’t get the chocolates at a packed out ANZ Stadium – but, under the watchful eye of Cronk, Slater and Smith – they ran out comfortable 34-6 winners.
But, who rose above the rest, who had quiet games and who had a game befitting of their entire career with the Storm?
1. Billy Slater – 9
Safe as houses under the numerous bombs sent his way across the 80 minutes. Was a threat in attack everywhere he went, and laid on a beautiful last pass for Felise Kaufusi to score the Storms’ second try. Scored one of his own on the stroke of halftime after selling the Cowboys a deft dummy.
2. Suliasi Vunivalu – 6
A relatively quiet game from the winger’s standards, but still handy with ball in hand. Was most effectively used as a one out runner from dummy half. Diffused one threatening bomb of note from Michael Morgan under some pressure in the early stages of the second stanza.
3. Will Chambers – 8
Laid on the first try of the game with a delightful offload to Josh Addo-Carr. Defended well and shut down his opposite number with ease. Had a couple of half breaks in the second half and threatened to bust the game open a number of times.
4. Curtis Scott – 6
Quiet game, didn’t do anything wrong, but saw very little ball until his opportunistic try in the dying stages of the game.
5. Josh Addo-Carr – 8
Went 80m to score the first try of the game. Showed his immense turn of speed a number of times to claw off easy metres. A threat every time he touched the ball. Set up Scott for his try in the 70th minute before scoring his second untouched in the corner.
6. Cameron Munster – 7
A really solid performance from the Melbourne five-eighth. Tackled well, passed perfectly and hustled hard in defence. Great foil to the big three.
7. Cooper Cronk – 8.5
His last game for the Storm was befitting of his entire career. Workmanlike, professional and tactically astute. Kicked beautifully, laid on a couple of tries, and defended like a pack dog all night. A true champion of the game.
8. Jesse Bromwich – 7
Butchered a try early in the game when he dummied and went himself one on one. However was great apart from that – carried for a handful of metres.
9. Cameron Smith (c) – 9.5
A different, but equally impressive, performance from the skipper. Provided a number of runs from dummy half and kept the ball in hand beautifully. His kicking game was spot on, especially in the early exchanges of the game to settle things down.
Professional, understated and clinical as ever.
The Storm’s best on ground.
10. Jordan McLean – 5
Quiet game from the big forward, was contained well in defence, but reliable in contact as always.
11. Felise Kaufusi – 7.5
Scored the second of his side’s tries. Ran good lines all game and defended with tenacity. One of the Storms best up front with Harris.
12. Tohu Harris – 8.5
A few strong carries gained his side valuable metres. Very nearly scored on the stroke of halftime, and was a threat basically every time he touched the ball. Registered 48 tackles and topped the count. Oh, and to top it off, threw an inch perfect 30m cut out ball for Josh Ado-Carr’s second. Maybe a shift to halfback next season in Cronk’s absence…
13. Dale Finucane – 6.5
Gave away a couple of needless penalties, but carried and defended soundly. Workmanlike around the ruck. Scored a try from close range off a Smith pass in the 65th minute.
14. Kenny Bromwich – 5
Quiet game from the Storm stalwart, but made no mistakes when on.
15. Tim Glasby – 5.5
A handy performance off the bench for the Queensland Origin player. Worked hard and carried well.
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona – 6.5
Provided good grunt off the bench, and injected where he could. A few really strong carries. More than a useful interchange option.
17. Slade Griffin – 2
Got 10 minutes at the end of the match, solid without being spectacular.