2012 NRL Telstra Premiership champions – the Melbourne Storm

Cooper Cronk

This will be a grand final victory they will savour, one that cannot be taken away from them – as a clinical Melbourne Storm side muscled their way to victory, over an error-prone, inconsistent Dogs side, winning 14-4 at ANZ Stadium, in front of over 82,000 fans.

With all the pressure on the Storm to win a premiership, one that fans deem as legitimate, captain and hooker Cameron Smith, said that for the Storm in this one, it was not about what happened in the past, but about setting a platform for the future.

“We’ve been asked this question for three years – is it about making up for what happened?” Smith said.

“It’s not.

“Sure we were all down about what happened a few years ago – it was a tough period, don’t get me wrong – but I think you’ve got to look at the way we went about ourselves in 2011 and 2012.

“You could see that we didn’t look back – we were looking forward.”

Although it was a collective team effort, Storm coach Craig Bellamy refuses to undermine the efforts of his big 3, particularly Billy Slater, who pulled off a try-saving tackle on Bulldogs centre, Josh Morris.

“If he scores there she’s a four-point game and anything could have happened,” Bellamy said.

“But that’s what you expect those players to do, they keep coming up with the big plays.

“That might be why they call them the big three.”

The game was evenly poised just before the break, before some Cooper Cronk magic saw Justin O’Neill score in the corner – a try that Dogs coach Des Hasler admits, broke his side’s back.

“The try right on halftime was a tough was to have scored against us … Melbourne are very hard to run down,” Bulldogs coach Hasler said.

“They’re too good a side, too clinical, too polished.”

The Dogs were valiant to the end, however, as they attempted to put on some points in the second half with a huge home crowd barracking for them – but it was not to be, with the Storm’s resolute defending denying them.

“I honestly didn’t believe we could defend as well as we did the second half – they were outstanding,” Bellamy said.

“These guys are the ones that have got us to where we are, they’re the ones that have believed in the club and have worked so hard to get us back to where we are tonight.

“I couldn’t be more proud of a footy team than I am at the moment.”

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