The Melbourne Storm prevailed in the 2020 NRL grand final with a 26-20 win over the Penrith Panthers.
It was one v two in the decider, and the game had big hits, good tries, inopportune errors, and controversial decisions.
Cameron Smith was instrumental, as his age continues to be just a number.
Smith and Craig Bellamy are the oldest player and coach respectively to win a premiership in the game’s history.
It would be the Storm who opened the scoring, courtesy of a penalty try.
Panthers centre Tyrone May, in an attempt to stop opposite centre Justin Olam, led with the feet.
Not allowed to do so and thus robbing Olam of a try-scoring opportunity, the penalty try was given and the Storm went up 6-0.
Two penalty goals from Smith put the Storm up 10-0 and the one-way traffic only went from bad to worse for Penrith.
Nathan Cleary, a star for Penrith in 2020, floated a pass towards the left sideline, only for Suliasi Vunivalu to soar through the air and intercept.
Not one to die wondering, Vunivalu raced away to score a simple try for the Storm and extend their lead to 16-0.
A silly play by Apisai Koroisau led to a third Storm try and perhaps the most straightforward of them all.
Koroisau, trying to put pressure on Smith, knocked the ball out of his hands but it travelled forward and Smith was there to pounce and score.
The try may well be the last of Cameron Smith’s career, should he opt to retire from the game.
Ryan Papenhuyzen then showcased his blistering speed, bursting through the Penrith line and down the field to score.
The try from the deserved Clive Churchill Medal winner put the Storm up 26-0.
A dubious opening try for Penrith then had everyone talking.
Isaah Yeo feigned a pass, run behind Kurt Capewell, the decoy and kicked ahead, allowing Brian To’o to score.
The bunker determined that there was no obstruction which baffled many, and the try was given to give Penrith a sniff.
Stephen Crichton would then continue his stellar season, as he cut back inside Brenko Lee to power his way over.
The game then took another turn when the Storm went down to 12 men after Jahrome Hughes was sin-binned.
Hughes was deemed to have interfered with the run of Viliame Kikau in an attempt to chase the ball and was sent to the bin.
With the extra man, Penrith would eventually score; Jarome Luai finding Josh Mansour in the corner.
With Penrith fans hopeful and optimistic, their chances improved further when the Storm went down to eleven men.
Brandon Smith was the man sin-binned this time, deliberately holding down a defender to produce a penalty try.
The Panthers would then score another and capitalise on their two-man advantage, as Nathan Cleary sliced through to score.
That would be all she wrote, though, as despite some last-second desperation, the Storm defence held on to win yet another grand final.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Ryan Papenhuyzen (MEL)
2. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (MEL)
- Cameron Smith (MEL)