Ryan Hoffman of the Storm scores a try

Execution ... the Storm's plan to target the Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds pays off as early as the seventh minute when Ryan Hoffman crashes over for the opening try. Photo: Getty Images

'Premierships are won on defence. That's what's we build our game on. Defence, mate. Defence!"

Those words came from an emotional Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater moments after the full-time siren, and his side's hard-fought victory in Sunday's wonderful grand final at ANZ Stadium.

The key to winning big occasion football matches is to come to the big show and get your game on.

The Storm managed to get their "game on" in attack. On the other side of the ball, it was their courageous defensive effort that prevented the Bulldogs from injecting their own brand of footy into the contest.

The Storm set up this victory with a near perfect first half of rugby league that produced a well-deserved 10-point lead at the break. They protected this advantage with an aggressive, well-structured and, when it was needed, desperate defensive effort that kept the minor premiers scoreless for the final 55minutes of the contest.

When in possession, the Storm players were meticulous in their execution. They diligently rolled through their vast repertoire of set patterns and plays. They were relentless with their last-play options to force repeat set after repeat set to starve the Bulldogs of possession and field position.

By half-time the Storm had enjoyed 23 opportunities with the ball, completing an amazing 22 of those sets. Only one error in 40minutes of grand final football. That's an amazing statistic.

By comparison, they restricted the Bulldogs to only 14 possessions, of which the Sydney team could only complete nine sets.

The Storm, very predictably, ran most of their big plays to the left side of the field, where they targeted the defence of young Josh Reynolds. Back-rower Ryan Hoffman brushed past his outside shoulder to score the opening try of the game. Slater surged through a gap on Reynolds's inside shoulder to score the second.

That's getting your game on!

Defensively, the Storm came with an attitude to sprint up quickly on the Bulldogs' playmakers and cut down their thinking time with the ball. Basically, they attacked with their defence. Where other NRL teams have had trouble all year countering the chain-passing raids of the Bulldog forwards, the Storm opted for a fast-moving, spoiling defensive line that was right up in their opponents's faces all night.

The Bulldogs had the better of possession in the second half, and threatened to find some attacking rhythm. However, the Storm's outside backs were brilliant in the way they read the play and effected their tackles.

Key to this operation were the likes of Will Chambers, Sisa Waqa, Dane Nielsen and Justin O'Neill. They rushed up and in, time and time again, cutting off the Bulldogs' outside backs and often winning ground despite not having the ball.

On the few occasions the Bulldogs did find space down the edges, the Melbourne cover defence was outstanding and saved the day.

It was a great team performance by the Storm. The generals gave them direction. The soldiers dutifully went about their work. The speed men down the edges were great both with and without the ball. The stars, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater had their moments; pulling in the reins on trying to be being adventurous, instead relying on a tremendous display of discipline and control to win the day.

The Bulldogs were really courageous. Their first-half defensive effort on their own goal line was inspirational. Lesser teams would have conceded many more points.

The Bulldogs just were never allowed to get into any rhythm whatsoever in attack.

There endeth the lesson.