The victory saw the Storm elevate their standing to sit among the greatest rugby league clubs in history, but they had to withstood a furious Parramatta finish to deny the Eels a fairytale finishÂ to cap theirÂ run to the decider.
This Storm machine was at its best in the decider, grinding the opposition into the ground before unleashing Greg Inglis and Billy Slater.
Not even the relentless defence of Eels veteran Nathan Hindmarsh, who made 62 tackles as he threw his body about in a desperate bid to erase the memory of his 2001 grand final heartache, could keep Parramatta in the contest.
The Storm took an earlyÂ vice-like grip on the contest,Â and they held on tight as they buried the memories of last year’s record loss to Manly. But the Eels made the Storm sweatÂ as they scored two triesÂ inside the final 10Â minutes to closeÂ within a converted try.
Parramatta surged with the support of the vast majority of the 82,538 crowd – the biggest since 2001, when the Eels reached the premiership decider -Â Joel Reddy scoring off a Jeff Robson bomb before Fuifui Moimoi trampled over several defenders to cross out wide.
“I was going to call for the trainer to get a change of Speedos,” Storm captain Cameron Smith said when asked about his feelings when the the game became so tight at the death.
Slater then dropped the ball near his own line, presenting the Eels with another invitation, only for Todd Lowrie to be left with the ball on the last tackle when any other option would have been better.
The Storm, on the back of a controversial stripping penalty against Moimoi on Slater, regained their composure before erupting in a series of hugs and high fives as Inglis kickedÂ a field goal to all but secure the result with three minutes on the clock.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Storm five-eighth Brett Finch, who was shown the door by the Eels after four games this year.
“If I did not do it, I would have had something sitting in the bottom of my guts for the rest of my life.
“It doesn’t matter who we beat, I said that all week.”
Having snowballed their way into the grand final on the back of 10 wins fromÂ 11 matches, the Eels went to water on the biggest stage -Â the Storm scoring after just five minutes through Ryan Hoffman, who ran over Robson in defence.
Having been brilliant against the Bulldogs last week, Robson was a target in defence -Â and it seemed to affect his attacking game, with the Eels let down by poor last-play options.
The Storm were having no such trouble, and it was no surprise when Cooper Cronk put Adam Blair over for the 10-0 leadÂ they took toÂ half-time.
The Eels came out strongly after the break,Â Moimoi leading the way with punishing defence,Â and wingerÂ Eric Grothe scored a deserved converted try to reduce the margin to 10-6.
But Melbourne weren’t about to give the game away,Â and they hit back with a double blow through Inglis and SlaterÂ after sensational lead-up work by Cronk.
The Eels left their best until last – much as they had done in the season as a whole -Â but they were unable to finish the job,