The Melbourne Storm have won yet another NRL premiership, defeating the Penrith Panthers 26-20 in the NRL grand final.
Here’s how each of Melbourne’s players fared in the decider.
Ryan Papenhuyzen: 9/10
The fullback scored what proved to be the game-sealing try early in the second half with an effort which his predecessor, Billy Slater, would have been proud of. Made more running metres than anyone else with 208, was an assured presence at the back, and deservedly took home the Clive Churchill Medal for player of the match.
Suliasi Vunivalu: 7
In his final game for Melbourne before moving to rugby union and the Queensland Reds, Vunivalu showed Storm fans what they’ll be missing out on next year when he scored a freak intercept try in the first half. Should have grabbed a second after half-time, but also rushed up in a couple of shocking defensive reads, one of which led directly to Josh Mansour’s late try.
Brenko Lee: 5
Lee didn’t do a lot in attack, and while he was mostly solid in defence, he was absolutely manhandled by Stephen Crichton when the Panthers centre crashed over for a second-half try.
Justin Olam: 5
Scored the opening try of the game but otherwise had a quiet night.
Josh Addo-Carr: 4
For a man who so often steps up in big games, Addo-Carr was hardly sighted in the decider. Only made eight runs for the entire match, although he did play a role in Olam’s opener.
Cameron Munster: 5
You’d expect Munster to play a starring role given how many tries Melbourne scored, but their five-eighth didn’t have much of an impact. Made his tackles, didn’t do a hell of a lot else.
Jahrome Hughes: 6
Doesn’t have any outstanding numbers on the stats sheet, but Hughes was a controlling influence on the game in the first half. Kicked nicely to keep the Storm in the right areas of the park, and was slightly unlucky to be sent to the bin late on.
Jesse Bromwich: 7
He isn’t the dynamic player he once was, but this was a typically efficient performance from Bromwich. Made a solid 80 metres from ten runs and only missed a single tackle all night.
Cameron Smith: 8
Smith doesn’t do bad performances. His kicking game could have been employed more on the greasy ANZ Stadium deck, but the skipper provided crisp service from dummy half despite the wet conditions, tackled all night long, converted well from the tee, and scored what would have been a morale-sapping try against Penrith on the halftime buzzer.
Christian Welch: 8
An excellent outing for the big prop. Led the Storm for tackles made (42) while only missing one, and also gained more running metres (132) than any other Melbourne forward.
Felise Kaufusi: 4
Not Kaufusi’s best night. Missed five tackles and made a handling error, but did go at about ten metres per run when he held onto the ball.
Kenny Bromwich: 6
Bromwich is one of the more underrated players in the NRL, but like his second-row partner wasn’t at his peak. Coughed up possession a couple of times, but he was strong in defence, making 37 tackles and missing just two.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona: 8
If there was a ‘guy I’d least like to have to tackle’ award in the NRL, Asofa-Solomona would surely be a frontrunner. Of Melbourne’s forwards, only Welch made more metres as big Nelson went on 13 powerful runs, and the lock only missed one of his 26 tackles.
Brandon Smith: 5
In his own words, Smith played “pretty shit”, and you can’t imagine Craig Bellamy being any less polite in his assessment of the utility’s late sin-bin. Still, Smith ran well and tackled efficiently.
Tino Faasuamaleaui: 6
Wasn’t on the field for much longer than 20 minutes, but the youngster was a strong runner with ball in hand. Penrith didn’t test him out much in defence.
Dale Finucane: 7
Another one of Melbourne’s underrated brigade, Finucane didn’t make much of an impact in attack but was excellent in defence all night.
Nicho Hynes: N/A
Didn’t take to the field.
Written by Daniel Jeffrey and Stirling Coates