MELBOURNE STORM - 2007 NRL PREMIERS

Match Summary The Melbourne Storm have erased all demons of last years heartbreaking Grand Final loss by taking out the 2007 Telstra Premiership in style, running out 34-8 victors over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

It was an all round complete display by the Storm, which is typical of how they've played all year. Watertight in defence. Devastating in attack. Absolutely unstoppable.

Melbourne were in control from the get-go, and after 12 minutes were over for the first points of the match through Anthony Quinn. Manly had a couple of chances, and the injection of Steve Menzies in the 20th minute brought some hope to the fans, but that hope was quickly dashed four minutes later as Clive Churchill medalist grabbed his first try of the match.

Manly managed to grab a try right on halftime through Steve Matai to close the gap, and left the field full of hope for the second half, realising that at just 6 points in arrear, they were still in this match.

However, just two minutes after the break, Manly's hopes were dashed in one, crunching tackle by Michael Crocker on Brett Stewart, which absolutely flattened Stewart and forced him from the field, never to return to the game.

With their X-factor gone, Manly's attacking options were limited, and it showed, with next to no support play existant in their arsenal.

Melbourne realised that Manly had lost one of their key players, and went on an absolute rampage in the second half.

Crocker was the first to bag a try, scoring off a great solo run from 20 metres out from the Manly line. Ten minutes later, and Matt King dove over in the left corner.

Two minutes later, and Greg Inglis scored the try of the game. Following the restart, prop Brett White burst through the line, then offloaded to a flying Inglis who raced 80 metres to score and put the result beyond doubt.

Manly bagged a cracker of a try for their own in the 63rd minute, which started with a long burst by Jamie Lyon on his 40 metre line, and ended with Chris Hicks dotting down in the corner.

It was all too little, too late for Manly, however, as two ex-Novocastrians in Clint Newton and Quinn scored in the final ten minutes to cap off an exceptional night and exceptional season for the Melbourne Storm.

Match Details NRL GRAND FINAL - Full Time :: September 30th, 2007 07:00 PM Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 81,392 Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Storm 10-4

Melbourne Storm 34 Tries: Anthony Quinn (2), Greg Inglis (2), Michael Crocker, Matt King, Clint Newton Goals: Cameron Smith (3/8) Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 8 Tries: Steve Matai, Chris Hicks Goals: Matt Orford (0/2)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Greg Inglis (Storm) 2 Points: Billy Slater (Storm) 1 Point: Michael Crocker (Storm)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary And then there were two...

Good evening and welcome to Telstra Stadium for the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final, to be contested by the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

It's been a long time between drinks for the Manly faithful, with their teams last appearance in a Grand Final being ten years ago, when they lost to the Newcastle Knights in what it commonly rated one of the best Grand Finals ever.

Melbourne have been the best team for the last two years. They've finished first on the competition table two years in a row, collecting two Minor Premierships. All that's left is to add an NRL Telstra Premiership trophy, and erase all demons of last years heartbreaking loss to the Broncos.

These two teams have been far and away the best and most consistent on field all year, with six competition points separating Melborne and Manly, and a further six separating Manly and third place finishers North Queensland at the end of the regular season. Both teams have had an equally as good passage through to the grand final. Melbourne thrashed Brisbane 40-0, then following the week off enjoyed a hard fought 26-10 victory over a spirited Parramatta outfit. Manly were just as dominant in both their finals matches, running out 30-6 victors over South Sydney in week one, then 28-6 over the Cowboys in week three.

Melbourne have had a few injury concerns coming into tonight match, with most concerns circling around prop Ben Cross and a hamstring injury he has been carrying. In naming their team earlier in the week, coach Craig Bellamy has named 12 players that played in last years losing Grand Final team, with the team lining up as such:

1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Matt King 4. Israel Folau 5. Anthony Quinn 6. Greg Inglis 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Ben Cross 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Brett White 11. Clint Newton 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson

14. Jeremy Smith 15. Matt Geyer 16. Michael Crocker 17. Jeff Lima

Manly themselves have had a few niggling injury concerns, but will also line up tonight as per program:

1. Brett Stewart 2. Michael Robertson 3. Steve Bell 4. Steve Matai 5. Chris Hicks 6. Jamie Lyon 7. Matt Orford (c) 8. Jason King 9. Michael Monaghan 10. Brent Kite 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Stewart 13. Luke Williamson

16. Mark Bryant 17. Steve Menzies 20. Jack Afamasaga 21. Adam Cuthbertson

Tonight I am joined by fellow LeagueUnlimited.com live-updater Ash "[furrycat]" Higgins, who is at Telstra Stadium, and will be sending me updates in the form of 'Cat's Call', in which he will detail the crowd level and intensity, as well as give his opinion on the game as it unfolds.

There were two other Grand Finals played this afternoon, and they were both nail biters that were won in the final seconds of the game. In Jersey Flegg, Penrith's Jarrod Sammut was the hero, scoring the try and booting the field goal to give them a 19-14 win over the Parramatta Eels. It wasn't all doom and gloom for Parramatta, as they managed a last gasp 20-15 win over the North Sydney Bears in Premier League.

With only eighty minutes remaining in season 2007, the stage is set for what should be a classic Grand Final.

Cat's Call: Amazing atmosphere here, with Telstra awash in a sea of maroon and white for Manly, and purple and blue for Melbourne. The stadium looks to be full to the rafters - I can hardly see an empty seat.

Manly have just made their way onto the field, to an enormous roar from the crowd.

Melbourne have just run out onto the field and completed the Victorian tradition of running through a large paper banner, having been met with a chorus a boo's from the largely pro-Manly crowd.

0 min: Tony Archer blows his whistle, and Cameron Smith gets us underway.

1 min: PENALTY - Melbourne: Melbourne get the first penalty of the match after Jamie Lyon upends Billy Slater in a tackle.

2 min: Cooper Cronk puts up the cross field kick over for Steve Turner on the 5th tackle, but the ball is cleaned over the dead ball like by Michael Robertson, and it's a goal line dropout to Manly.

4 min: A 5th tackle grubber by Cronk rebounds off feet and is cleaned up by Matt Orford, who races 50 metres down field before being cleaned up by Greg Inglis.

6 min: PENALTY - Manly: Ben Cross gives away the penalty for taking to long to clear the tackle. Manly with the ball on Melbourne's 40.

8 min: PENALTY - Manly: Ben Cross gives away another penalty, this time for a high tackle on Steve Matai.

10 min: Steve Matai has raced up and put an absolute massive hit on Brett White, which has left White rattled.

10 min: Following the Matai hit, Clint Newton lost the ball on the next play and handed it over to Manly in excellent field position. Manly, however, squandered any chance they had by firing a long and unnecessary ball out to Chris Hicks, who had to dive to collect it, and put a foot on the sideline in the process.

11 min: PENALTY - Melbourne: Luke Williamson flops into a tackle late, and Melbourne will get another chance to post first points.

12 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Melbourne Try...

12 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A slick blindside movement on the last tackle has seen Anthony Quinn race over the line in the corner, planting the ball down closer to the posts to make the conversion easier for Cameron Smith. From dummy half, the ball went back behind the first line to Greg Inglis, who then passed to Quinn for the spoils. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 6-0

15 min: Manly look to find themselves in space down the right hand side in Melbourne's territory, only for Chris Hicks to knock on.

17 min: Michael Monaghan goes for one of his 4th tackle 40/20 attempts, but it is will anticipated by Melbourne, with Slater back there early to collect the ball.

20 min: A big cheer arises from the crowd as it is announced that Steve Menzies has entered the game.

22 min: A great set by Melbourne which began near their own try-line, ends 80 metres down field with the second best result coming from Cronk's 5th tackle grubber, in the form of another line drop-out

23 min: Cat's Call: And the crowd roar and come to their feet as Beaver Menzies enters the game. Maybe he can inject something into this nervous side. What an intense first twenty minutes of football. Manly have looked sluggish and have not come close to their best. Too many holes creeping into their defence

24 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Following the line drop-out, Melbourne work it to Manly's try-line and, following a play in which Dallas Johnson almost scored, Cronk and Cameron Smith worked a little wrap-around play, then passed out to a rampaging Greg Inglis who carried 3 Manly players over the line for the try. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 10-0

26 min: Melbourne almost go back-to-back, following a huge break by Newton and Slater, only for Cronk to be tackled with the ball on the last. Worrying times here for Manly.

27 min: PENALTY - Melbourne: Manly give away a penalty by trying to slow the game down after yet another massive break by Slater. Melbourne in full control of this game, and threatening to take it out of reach of Manly.

28 min: Incredible display of strength from Anthony Quinn, standing his ground in a tackle, before finally being forced over the sideline by about seven Manly players, yet somehow managing to offload the ball before he goes over. Unfortunately for him the ball is pounced upon by Glenn Stewart.

29 min: Beaver loses the ball, just as Manly are into Melbourne's territory and looked to be getting a roll-on.

30 min: Now Michael Crocker has lost the ball in a tackle, although replays show the ball has been raked out and it should have been a penalty.

34 min: Manly look to have successfully stemmed Melbourne's attacking flow for the time being, but are still having trouble getting their own attack to prove effective.

35 min: Monaghan loses the ball at dummy half on the halfway line, and Folau pounces on it from marker, to give Melbourne yet another set in Manly's territory.

37 min: As Cronk gets set to feed a scrum 10 out from his own line, we see Cross taking an early stroll up the tunnels, most likely to get treatment for that injured hamstring.

40 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Manly Try...

40 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Manly finally get on the scoreboard, through Steve Matai who shrugged off Folau, then carried Cronk over for the try. If was lovely lead up work from Orford, who made a half-break in the Melbourne defence, then Monaghan, who booted up the high ball, which was knocked on by Cameron Smith and regathered by Jeff Lima. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 10-4

HALF TIME It's half time here in the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final, with Manly scoring just on half time to get themselves back into the match at 10 points to 4. Prior to their last second try, it was been a Melbourne-dominated affair, with Billy Slater in fantastic form, seemingly breaking the line at will. Melbourne in general have dominated all facets of the game, in both attack and defence. While that try on half time will give their fans some hope, Des Hasler has quite a task on his hands if he is to get his Manly team up in this Grand Final.

Cat's Call: News Flash! Eagles caught in the eye of the Storm. They are struggling at times, and are losing feathers with every line break that the Storm make.. But mark my words, this is not the end for the courageous Eagles - the late try gives them a much needed boost, but there is someone else out there who needs to lift, and that man is Michael Monaghan. He has been unusually quiet, and if he fires in this second half, this Storm could be over. Neither team has reached their best yet, and we are in for an action filled second half. Cat's tip: Storm by four.

40 min: Matt Orford gets the second half underway, with one of these teams now 40 minutes away from premiership glory.

41 min: Brett Stewart is in real trouble here, down on the ground after having been absolutely flattened in a tackle by Michael Crocker after taking a Greg Inglis bomb.

41 min: Great news for Manly, as Stewart is up on his feet, and walking, albeit assisted, to the sideline to be interchanged.

42 min: PENALTY - Melbourne: Melbourne get the penalty, after Slater passes the ball into an offside Brent Kite. Cameron Smiths lines up to take the shot at goal.

43 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm Smith misses the relatively easy kick to the right of the posts. Melbourne Storm 10-4

45 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Michael Crocker scores a fantastic solo try to extend the lead for the Storm. Smith continues his un-happy night with the boot. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 14-4

47 min: Manly earn a reprieve, with Cronk kicking the ball out over the sideline on the full.

48 min: News from the dressing room is not too good for Manly. While they're not willing to rule him out just yet, it is seemingly very unlikely that Brett Stewart will return to this game.

52 min: Jason King has lost the ball on just the second tackle, 25 out from his own line. Melbourne with a fantastic opportunity to put this game beyond doubt.

54 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Melbourne Try...

54 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A simple backline movement sees the ball through the hands of Cameron Smith, back to Cronk, back to Slater, then out to King who beats Jamie Lyon and dives over for the try and to seemingly put this game out of Manly's reach. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 18-4

55 min: Cat's Call: Manly's stars have gone missing all game. They have been missing something. Now it looks as if they will be missing something in the trophy cabinet too.

56 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A lovely half-break and offload from Brett White deep in his own half sends Inglis through a huge hole in the defence, and Melbourne go the length of the field to score and extend the lead. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 22-4

59 min: The last remaining member of the winning 1999 Grand Final team Matt Geyer warms up on the sideline, looking like he is going to finally be injected into this game, as Melbourne go back on attack, hungry for more points and a win of proportions akin to that of Geelong over Port Adelaide in yesterdays AFL Grand Final.

62 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles The Manly fans in the crowd finally have something to cheer about as Manly finally find some of the form that got them into this game and score a fantastic try. Starting on their own 40 metre line, Monaghan takes a dart out of dummy half towards the blind side, passing to Menzies who quickly handed the ball onto Lyon who found himself in a bit of space. Racing downfield, Lyon was able to slow down and give his backup time to arrive as the defence converged upon him, passing inside to Chris Hicks who raced away for the try. Matt Orford continues an unhappy night for both teams goal kickers. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 22-8

66 min: Anthony Quinn knocks on with the line begging, and Manly survive another attacking raid.

68 min: Crowd: 81,392

69 min: Steve Bell makes a long break down the left sideline, but loses the ball in a monster of a tackle from behind by Folau.

72 min: Cuthbertson loses the ball 35 out from his own line, and with it any remote chance that Manly may have had of winning this match.

73 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Mid-season signing Clint Newton crashes over from short-range, and adds his name to the score sheet. Cameron Smith has a little prayer before taking the kick at goal, and faith pays off with the ball going between the sticks. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 28-8

76 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Melbourne Try...

76 min: TRY Melbourne Storm In a big night for ex-Novocastrians, Anthony Quinn has stripped the ball one-on-one from Jamie Lyon, and raced away to grab his second. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 34-8

FULL TIME It's full time here at Telstra Stadium, with the Melbourne Storm taking out the 2007 NRL Telstra Premiership, beating the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles to the tune of 34 points to 8.

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