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Storm clouds gone as stars celebrate win

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Perfect Storm blitz Bulldogs in NRL decider

Melbourne Storm have defeated minor premiers the Cantebury Bulldogs to win the 2012 NRL premiership.

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IT SEEMS fairytale endings do happen. Two years after Melbourne was locked in the darkest days of the club's history, the Storm proved too strong for Canterbury in last night's grand final, winning 14-4 and giving three of the best players in the competition the right to now officially call themselves premiership players.

The Storm's ''big three'', Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater - as well as prodigal son Ryan Hoffman- have been the heart and soul of the team. They were among the most deeply affected when the team was stripped of two premierships after being penalised for long-term salary cap cheating.

Cronk capped off a brilliant display, awarded the Clive Churchill medal for best player on the field.

Charging away: Storm champion Billy Slater makes a break.

Charging away: Storm champion Billy Slater makes a break. Photo: Brendan Esposito

But it was not an easy ride for the Storm, with an apparent try to Bryan Norrie controversially denied by video referee Chris Ward and a frantic final 10 minutes when the Bulldogs' much-vaunted outside backs finally began to make some holes in the Storm defence.

Despite an improved second half for Canterbury, it was too little too late with the Storm grimly holding onto its lead in a scoreless second half. In fact it was the Storm's defence that proved the difference in keeping the second half scoreless after the Bulldogs gave up three tries in the first half.

''It's fantastic. We worked so hard for this and geez we earned it,'' Hoffman said.

Ryan Hoffman crashes over for the first try of the grand final.

Ryan Hoffman crashes over for the first try of the grand final. Photo: Quentin Jones

''We earned this through hard work … we had so many guys putting their bodies on the line.''

The Storm players and officials claim the dark days of 2010 had little to do with what the team achieved last year or this season. They say that the team differed vastly from the sides that had two premierships stripped from it.

But the core of the team, those who are the heart and soul of it, the likes of Smith, Slater, Cronk and Hoffman, were all there again and there is no doubt that they have long memories.

Storm players celebrate a Justin O'Neill try.

Storm players celebrate a Justin O'Neill try. Photo: Dave Tease

The players have a different take on the salary cap scandal, maintaining that regardless of what the history books say, they are the rightful premiers of 2007 and 2009. They have the tattoos and premierships rings to prove it. Now the Storm has a second official premiership to go with its maiden triumph in 1999.

The game was marred by an ugly incident, with Slater claiming that James Graham bit his ear during a scuffle after the Bulldogs' first try to Sam Perrett.

The try, where Perrett did well to pick up and control a grubber kick and a Slater tackle to slide over, levelled the scores at 4-4, but was overshadowed by the all-in brawl that was sparked immediately afterwards when Krisnan Inu pushed Slater over. Players from both teams rushed in with Josh Reynolds and Sisa Waqa trading punches, but it was Slater who was the last off the ground clutching his ear.

The Storm complained to referee Tony Archer about the ''Mike Tyson moment''. Archer said there was not enough evidence to prove the claim and therefore put the incident on report for the match review committee to look at today.

The Storm dominated the first half, having 66 per cent of possession, but for all its control it went to half-time with only 14-4 lead. Storm rarely loses when it leads at the break so the Bulldogs needed to be the first to score in the second half and in the opening minutes they turned the tables on the Storm, forcing repeated sets in a row.

But despite the Bulldogs' pressure, Storm's defence was outstanding and it finally got its hands on the ball with a Cameron Smith try-saving tackle on Michael Ennis, when the Storm captain held his opposite number up over the tryline.

The Bulldogs' fans were on their feet when Storm five-eighth Gareth Widdop put up a cross-field kick with the loose ball ending up in the hands of star full-back Ben Barba, who outsprinted Cronk over the length of the field to plant the ball .

But the try was disallowed as it had already been ruled that Bulldogs' winger Jonathan Wright had knocked-on. From the scrum, the Storm set up Hoffman for the first try of the game.

Hoffman ran between Josh Reynolds and Inu and barged his way over the line.

However, skipper Smith showed the first sign that his goalkicking had gone off, continuing the poor form of last week by missing the relatively easy shot. It left the score at 4-0 after six minutes.

The Storm then went on a remarkable period of dominance through the aid of penalties given up by the undisciplined Bulldogs or by forcing line dropouts.

Despite its errors, Canterbury did well to not concede any points and gradually began to get itself back in the game.

The big brawl and the biting allegation seemed to fire up the Storm and it put on two tries in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

The first was to Slater, who ran off a Cronk pass to split the defence and score.

Cronk was involved in another at 39 minutes when he put in a nice kick that Justin O'Neill grabbed and burst through a Barba tackle.

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Round 1
Thu, 03 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR vs BRI 20:05Pirtek
Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs CBY 20:05BO
Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBR vs PEN 15:00GIO
WST vs NZW 17:30CSS
NQL vs CRO 19:301300
Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs SOU 16:00AS
GCT vs NEW 18:30Cbus
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MEL vs STG 19:00AAMI
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PEN vs CBY 20:05Pepp
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CBR vs SYD 15:00GIO
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:30Pirtek
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CRO vs STG 16:00Shark Park
MEL vs GCT 18:30AAMI
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WST vs MAN 19:00VAS
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Round 3
Thu, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL vs SYD 20:051300
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CBY vs PAR 20:05ANZ
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NEW vs CBR 17:30HS
PEN vs BRI 19:30Pepp
GCT vs WST 21:30Cbus
Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW vs MEL 14:00MSS
STG vs SOU 16:00SCG
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MAN vs CRO 19:00BO
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vs 00:00TBA
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Round 4
Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU vs CBY 16:00ANZ
BRI vs NQL 20:05SUN
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CBR vs GCT 17:30GIO
SYD vs MAN 19:30AS
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG vs PEN 16:00WIN
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NZW vs NEW 14:00MSS
WST vs PAR 16:00ANZ
CRO vs MEL 19:00Shark Park
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vs 00:00TBA
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Round 5
Thu, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs SOU 20:05BO
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GCT vs BRI 20:05Cbus
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MEL vs NEW 15:00AAMI
WST vs CRO 17:30CSS
NQL vs STG 19:301300
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NZW 14:00AS
PAR vs PEN 16:00Pirtek
Mon, 04 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs CBR 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
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Thu, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 19:50SUN
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU vs SYD 19:50ANZ
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBR 15:00Pirtek
NZW vs MAN 17:30MSS
PEN vs NQL 19:30Pepp
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO vs GCT 14:00Shark Park
NEW vs WST 16:00HS
Mon, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs CBY 19:00AAMI
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Round 7
Thu, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PAR 19:50BO
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
NQL vs SOU 19:501300
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
GCT vs STG 15:00Cbus
CBY vs NZW 17:30Westpac Stadium
BRI vs NEW 19:30SUN
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CRO 14:00GIO
WST vs MEL 16:00VAS
Mon, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PEN 19:00AS
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Round 8
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SOU 19:50SUN
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs GCT 15:00ANZ
CBR vs WST 17:30GIO
NQL vs PAR 19:301300
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO vs PEN 16:00Shark Park
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW vs MAN 14:00HS
STG vs SYD 16:00AS
MEL vs NZW 19:00AAMI
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Round 9
Thu, 28 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU vs WST 19:50ANZ
PAR vs CBY 19:50ANZ
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CBR 15:00Carrington Park
SYD vs NEW 17:30CCS
MAN vs NQL 19:30BO
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW vs STG 12:00MSS
GCT vs MEL 14:00Cbus
CRO vs BRI 16:00Shark Park
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Round 10
Thu, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBR 19:50Jubilee Oval
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR vs SOU 19:50Pirtek
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs NZW 15:00AMI Stadium
MEL vs NQL 17:30SUN
MAN vs BRI 19:30SUN
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
WST vs CBY 16:00ANZ
Mon, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT vs SYD 19:00Cbus
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Round 11
Thu, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs STG 19:50ANZ
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
NQL vs BRI 19:501300
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
NZW vs CBR 17:30Yarrow Stadium
CRO vs MAN 19:30Shark Park
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs GCT 14:00Pepp
CBY vs SYD 16:00ANZ
Mon, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR vs MEL 19:00Pirtek
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Round 12
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WST 19:50SUN
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO
Mon, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW vs PAR 19:00HS
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Round 13
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs MAN 19:50GIO
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs BRI 15:00MSS
NQL vs NEW 17:301300
MEL vs PEN 19:30AAMI
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WST 16:00AS
SOU vs GCT 18:30nib Stadium
Mon, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs CRO 19:00ANZ
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Round 14
Thu, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBR 19:50SUN
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:50ANZ
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs NZW 15:00HS
PAR vs GCT 17:30TIO
SYD vs MEL 19:30AS
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PEN 16:00BO
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
CRO vs NQL 19:00Shark Park
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Round 15
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU vs PAR 19:50ANZ
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs MEL 19:30WIN
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SYD 16:00MSS
Mon, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus
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Round 16
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:50Pepp
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs STG 15:00HS
CRO vs NZW 17:30Shark Park
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus
MEL vs WST 16:00AAMI
Mon, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NQL vs MAN 19:001300
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Round 17
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CBY 19:50AS
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 19:50SUN
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs GCT 15:00MSS
WST vs PEN 17:30ANZ
CRO vs PAR 19:30Shark Park
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NEW 14:00GIO
SOU vs NQL 16:00Barlow Park
Mon, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs STG 19:00BO
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Round 18
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs SYD 19:50Pirtek
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:30ANZ
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CRO 16:00Pepp
Mon, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 19:00GIO
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Round 19
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs GCT 19:50Jubilee Oval
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
SOU vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW vs MEL 14:00HS
PEN vs PAR 16:00Pepp
Mon, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 19:00AS
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Round 20
Thu, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBY 19:501300
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:50SUN
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NZW 15:00GIO
GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO vs NEW 14:00Shark Park
STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
Mon, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
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Round 21
Wed, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PEN 22:00MSS
Thu, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
CBY vs STG 00:00ANZ
GCT vs CRO 00:00Cbus
PAR vs WST 00:00ANZ
SOU vs CBR 00:00ANZ
MAN vs NEW 00:00BO
NQL vs MEL 00:001300
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Round 22
Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs BRI 00:00WIN
PAR vs MAN 00:00Pirtek
CRO vs CBR 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
MEL vs SOU 00:00AAMI
GCT vs NZW 00:00Cbus
WST vs NQL 00:00VAS
PEN vs SYD 00:00Pepp
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Round 23
Wed, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 00:00ANZ
BRI vs PAR 00:00SUN
WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
STG vs CRO 00:00Jubilee Oval
NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
SYD vs NQL 00:00AS
CBR vs MEL 00:00GIO
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Round 24
Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
SYD vs STG 00:00AS
NEW vs GCT 00:00HS
NQL vs NZW 00:001300
MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
GCT vs PEN 00:00Cbus
MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
PAR vs STG 00:00Pirtek
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
Thu, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 00:00SUN
CBY vs SOU 00:00ANZ
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
NQL vs GCT 00:001300
MEL vs CRO 00:00AAMI
WST vs CBR 00:00VAS
PEN vs MAN 00:00Pepp
View All Fixtures

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