Melbourne won their second NRL crown in three years with a 23-16 victory over brave Parramatta in the Grand Final.
Played in front of a crowd of 82,538– the biggest Grand Final crowd since 2001 – the Storm suffocated the Eels in the opening forty minutes to lead ten nil at the break.
The Eels fought back in the second – scoring first before adding two quick tries with ten and eight minutes left to play – before Greg Inglis put them to the sword with a field goal three minutes from time.
The Storm forced the Eels to work out of their own half early on while also cutting down their offload options, making life difficult for the Blue & Golds from the outset.
This was despite the efforts of Eels stalwart Nathan Hindmarsh, who racked up 40 opening stanza tackles to almost singlehandedly keep the Eels in the game.
The Grand Final was just four minutes old when the Storm crossed for their first, Ryan Hoffman running onto a Brett Finch ball to score wide out on the left. Cameron Smith converted from the sideline to put Melbourne out to an early 6-nil lead.
Hindmarsh gave the Eels hope just before the break, forcing a fifth tackle turnover from Cronk when the Storm were on the surge, however they were unable to convert pressure into points.
Luke Burt’s conversion narrowed the gap to four points at 10-6.
The Eels joy would be short lived with Greg Inglis steaming onto a Cronk bomb to score under the posts just four minutes later, the conversion making it 16-6 the Storm’s way.
Burt again converted to make it 22-12 with nine minutes remaining.
Just 60 seconds later Fuifui Moimoi put on a blockbusting run from 25 metres out to bring the Eels dominated crowd to its feet, scoring just inside the left corner post to narrow the deficit to a converted try at 22-16.
A contentions Tony Archer penalty – who ruled a strip after Slater had clearly dropped it when trying to play the ball – gave the Storm field position and three tackles later Inglis struck the telling blow, nailing a field goal from 25 metres to establish the final seven point margin.
Slater was named the winner of the Clive Churchill Medal at match end.
2009 TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP GRAND FINAL
Melbourne Storm 23 (Ryan Hoffman, Adam Blair, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals from 4 attempts; Greg Inglis field goal) defeated the Pirtek Parramatta Eels 16 (Eric Grothe, Joel Reddy, Fuifui Moimoi tries; Luke Burt 2 goals from 3 attempts) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 82,538