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The Melbourne Storm have been crowned the 2012 NRL premiers after defeating the Bulldogs 14-4 in a thrilling encounter in front of a record 82,976 crowd at ANZ Stadium.
In a match that was not without its share controversy, the Storm were superb, producing a flawless defensive effort in the second half to hold out the minor premiers and take out the 2012 grand final.
The Storm were on their game early, dominating the field possession battle in the opening minutes before Ryan Hoffman opened up the scoring in the seventh minute. Cameron Smith continued his bad run with the boot missing the early conversion.
After coming up empty handed after numerous shots at the Bulldogs' goal line, the Melbourne Storm opted to go for the two when gifted a penalty in the 17th minute. However Smith failed to kick the goal.
The combination of Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrett gave the Bulldogs' fans a reason to cheer in the 26th minute when Perrett scored in the corner courtesy of an Inu grubber. Inu failed to convert.
The try was marred by a controversial biting incident which allegedly occurred during a scuffle between the players immediately after it was scored. The incident resulted in James Graham being placed on report.
The Storm hit back in the 33rd minute with Billy Slater scoring off a superb kick from Clive Churchill medalist Cooper Cronk.
The Storm got the last word in the first half with Justin O'Neil scoring from a superb kick from Cronk. Smith failed to add the extras again.
The Bulldogs were given an attacking opportunity in the opening minutes of the second half after a rare mistake from Billy Slater. However, five back-to-back sets were not even enough for the Bulldogs to break through the Melbourne defence.
Josh Reynolds looked like he may have broken the dead lock in the 66th minute only to be denied after replays revealed Jonathan Wright had batted the ball forward in the lead up to the play.
Brian Norrie was denied a try for the Storm in the 69th minute after Billy Slater put him in under the posts.
The Bulldogs were given a handful of opportunities to put the Storm to the pump in the final ten minutes of the match, but the Storm were too good.
Canterbury Bulldogs 4 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 14
National Rugby League - 2012 NRL Grand Final - Sunday September 30, 2012 5:15pm
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer and Ben Cummins
Video Referee: Chris Ward and Shayne Hayne
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Paul Holland
Halftime: Canterbury Bulldogs 4 Melbourne Storm 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cooper Cronk
2 Points - Cameron Smith (1 Conversion)
1 Point - Billy Slater (1 Try)
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS (4)
Tries: Sam Perrett
Conversions: Krisnan Inu (0/1)
MELBOURNE STORM (14)
Tries: Ryan Hoffman, Billy Slater, Justin O'Neill
Conversions: Cameron Smith (1/3)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (0/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary NRL Season 2012 all comes down to this. The Grand Final is upon us and the 2012 Premiership is at stake. In the battle for the acclaimed bit of bronze are the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
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TEAM NEWS: The Melbourne Storm have Sika Manu switches places with Kevin Proctor who will start. The Bulldogs will go out 1-17 as per program.
The grand final has been sung with both sides looking pumped and primed and we are moments from kick off.
1 min: Game on! Melbourne with first use of the football.
2 min: Perrett knocks on an intercept attempt 23 out from the Melbourne line.
3 min: The starts from both sides have been otherwise faultless.
5 min: The go forward has been stronger from the Storm in the early passages, having made it to the danger end with each set, Canterbury on the other hand have struggled to make it past their 40 with each of their attacking sets.
6 min: Knock on by Jonathan Wright 15 out from his own line, great opportunity for Melbourne here with a scrum.
9 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Melbourne are in with the first points of the 2012 decider. A wonderful effort from Ryan Hoffman to stretch over and claim the try. Conversion attempt from Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Melbourne Storm 4-0
10 min: Big error from Ben Barba attempting to field a Cronk bomb, gifts a line drop out.
11 min: Cronk forces another line drop out, this time Barba had no other choice than to let it happen.
12 min: First PENALTY of the game goes against Bulldogs' Aiden Tolman. Pressure continues to build on the blue and white line.
13 min: Another PENALTY to Melbourne, this coming ten out.
14 min: Another line drop out, after a great effort claiming the ball, Josh Morris is forces into touch.
15 min: Bulldogs concede another PENALTY - Kasiano high tackle, Smith points to the posts.
17 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
Smith misses a relatively simple attempt.
Melbourne Storm 4-0
19 min: Melbourne appear to have handed some momentum to the Bulldogs when they handed them the ball for no points.
20 min: Sisa Waqa saves what would have been a try but hands the Bulldogs a scrum 30 out from the Melbourne line.
21 min: Widdop knocks on attempting to play the ball quickly.
22 min: Bulldogs return the favour still inside their own half.
23 min: The results of a Cronk bomb at the Bulldogs' lie earn Melbourne six again.
24 min: Bulldogs receive their first PENALTY of the match.
26 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Bulldogs TRY as well as some biff.
27 min: TRY
TRY to the Bulldogs
Superb effort from Perrett in the corner to score the Bulldogs first points. Greatly overshadowed by a dog act that saw Slater bitten in the ear - put on report. Conversion attempt from Inu unsuccessful.
29 min: Opportunity Melbourne, scrum 15 out.
31 min: A great retrieve an streak down the flank finishes with Bulldogs conceding a PENALTY.
32 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Melbourne TRY.
33 min: TRY
TRY to Melbourne!
Cronk dummies and a flicks it to Slater who knows his way over the try line. Conversion attempt successful from Smith.
Melbourne Storm 10-4
36 min: Good efforts from both sides and Bulldogs cannot avoid the line drop out.
38 min: Melbourne scrum 30 out from the dogs' line, opportunity close to half time.
40 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
A perfect kick from Cooper Cronk is collected by Justin O'Neill for a try in the corner. Smith misses the conversion attempt.
Melbourne Storm 14-4
40 min: And that will be the half, a very lively first 40 and we are taken into the interval with Melbourne leading Bulldogs 14 points to 4.
41 min: Smith gets us under way in the second half.
42 min: Slater knocks on only ten metres out from his own line. Bulldogs' scrum ten out.
43 min: The Bulldogs receive a penalty on tackle three.
44 min: Slater is forced to bat a Barba grubber dead and the Bulldogs will get a line drop out.
46 min: Josh Jackson is tackled into touch and the Storm are off the hook for now but the Bulldogs will receive a scrum feed ten out because the refs were playing the advantage.
47 min: The Bulldogs force another line drop out.
49 min: The Bulldogs get a tackle count restart on tackle two from 30 out.
50 min: Possible try to Michael Ennis for the Dogs!
50 min: No try! Ennis tries to burrow through from dummy half but Cameron Smith holds him up. Excellent effort by the Melbourne captain.
51 min: The Storm will get a scrum on halfway after the Bulldogs are pinned for a knock on.
52 min: Sam Kasiano is pinned for using his knee.
54 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
The Storm opt to go for the two and Smith misses again but the ball goes dead of the Storm will get the ball back.
Melbourne Storm 14-4
55 min: Ben Barba fields a Cronk kick but is tackled into touch a few metres from his own line.
57 min: The Storm force a line drop out.
59 min: Jesse Bromwich leaves the ball behind as he charges at the line and the Dogs are off the hook.
62 min: Barba makes a break down the left touch line and kicks the ball in field to Morris who bats the ball forward before Slater knocks it over the dead ball line before Morris regathers it. The Storm will get a scrum 10 out.
65 min: The Bulldogs will get a scrum just short of halfway.
66 min: Possible try to the Bulldogs!
66 min: NO TRY! Wright batted the ball forward!
69 min: Possible to try to the Storm!
69 min: NO TRY! Brian Norrie was offside!
74 min: The Bulldogs receive a penalty 10 out from their own line.
75 min: The Bulldogs get a tackle count restart only 20 out from the Storm line.
77 min: Widdop diffuses a Keating chip bomb a few metres out from his line and the Storm are off the hook.
78 min: Sisa Waqa knocks the ball forward on halfway.
79 min: Justin O'Neil cleans up a Bulldogs' kick and the Storm are off the hook.
80 min: Slater knocks the ball over the sideline and with 12 seconds to go there won't be enough time to pack a scrum. The Storm have won the NRL grand final 14-4.