Season 2009: Round 30

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on December 2, 2010

From The Couch: Grand Final Wrap Up

Grand Final Thoughts: Many good judges remarked pre-match how well the Melbourne Storm looked relative to their three previous Grand Finals, noting how the team looked fresher and more focussed. The senior players looked happy and loose. The coaching staff weren’t waging wars through the media. The younger players looked comfortable with their roles. The lessons of 2008 had been learned and Craig Bellamy and company were never going to let a second chance slip. And they didn’t. Melbourne were so efficient and clinical in that first half that even though they only led 10-0 at the break the match seemed over. Cooper Cronk was kicking beautifully and directing traffic. Brett Finch was playing the foil so well and set up the opening try with a delightful short ball to the barnstorming Ryan Hoffman who was fuelled by atonement. Jarryd Hayne was almost totally shutdown. When he did get involved it was to kick and his kicking game was abhorrent, placing the Storm in Eels territory for the first twenty minutes.

The Melbourne line was disciplined and allowed Hayne no room in attack. When Hayne could not produce his magic, Parramatta looked impotent. They had no plan B for the first half and relied on trying to win the arm wrestle, something they also failed at. Parra jumped the gun in the second half with a tremendous try to Eric Grothe to put them back in the game but Melbourne quickly fought back to establish a 22-6 lead with tries to Slater and Inglis. The try in Inglis should be particularly galling to the Parramatta faithful as Inglis caught a bomb he had no right to be anywhere near. Jarryd Hayne simply pulled up, afraid of a collision, while the spotters did a poor job of protecting the ball and the fullback. That try was the critical play of the Grand Final.

Parramatta staged a comeback in the last quarter of the match with tries to Joel Reddy and Fuifui Moimoi, the last a powerhouse effort to match any other. It was too late this time, however. The Storm slotted a late field goal to secure victory and Melbourne claimed their second title in four years. It was a coaching win and a tip of the hat to the importance of a quality coaching staff. They were the most deserving team and natural justice prevailed. The same cannot be said of the Churchill Medal that was ludicrously given to Billy Slater ahead of Cooper Cronk. The decision was not surprising, however, given that Bob McCarthy and his crew of idiot selectors made the call. All in all a very good Grand Final without being great and a fine achievement for a team deserving in kudos and public celebration.

Television Ratings: The NRL once again laid the wallop on the AFL in terms of television ratings with the NRL Grand Final outrating the AFL decider by 200,000 viewers nationwide. The NRL Grand Final attracted 3.6 million viewers compared to the AFL, who averaged 3.4 million viewers. This is a tremendous result for the NRL and one the league must take full advantage of immediately starting with the coverage Nine gives the game in Melbourne and other non-traditional rugby league states. Nine once again gave Melbournians a raw deal by showing none of the lead-up and cutting away as soon as the full-time siren sounded. It was a total and utter disgrace. David Gallop and the NRL can no longer afford to play the subservient mail order bride to Channel Nine’s misogynistic and controlling husband. The NRL must stand up for itself and enforce the “use it or lose it” policy they talked up a number of years ago. Give the coverage to the ABC, SBS or Fox Sports if Nine refuses to show the matches at a reasonable hour. The NRL runs this show and needs to start realising it. The game’s great strength is television. The NRL needs to get maximum value out of the next contract but it also needs to position itself to get the game shown nationally at a reasonable hour. If the NRL wants to compete with the AFL, it needs to start firing shots in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Now is the perfect time to load the gun.

Super Field Goal: Greg Inglis nailed possibly the worst successful Grand Final field goal in the history of the game with his wobbly dart that secured victory for the Melbourne Storm. Benny Elias would have been proud. Except the Inglis shot went over.

The Archer: Parramatta fans have taken a fair beating throughout their sorry history yet they still have shown no ability to lose with grace or decency. Eels fans everywhere are blaming Tony Archer for a penalty he awarded to Melbourne four minutes from full-time that precipitated the Storm’s match winning field goal as the excuse for Parramatta’s Grand Final defeat. Parramatta were beaten due to a terrible kicking game, a failure to win the battle of the forwards, their inability to hustle for the loose ball and a general lack of direction. Archer’s penalty had little bearing and was in fact the correct ruling. Eels fans should do what they do best and turn on one of their own now.

Player Ratings:


1. Billy Slater 8 Lucky to win the Churchill Medal but was still outstanding. His kick return left the Storm in good field position most of the day while he was a constant threat in attack.

2. Steve Turner 7.5 Stevie T was a forgotten hero of the Grand Final win. Turner swept on everything that came his way. He worked hard coming off his own line and he made some key defensive plays that kept the game in hand.

3. Will Chambers 6 Chambers was hardly seen all evening. Gave away a stupid penalty in the last ten minutes off an Eels drop out that could have proven costly. He has union player written all over him.

4. Greg Inglis 8 Was well contained for much of the night but when given a sniff he put the game in Melbourne’s keeping firstly with a super try and then with a wobbly field goal. He is the ultimate big game player. Feels no pressure.

5. Dane Nielsen 6 Did Nielsen even play? He was uber quiet on his wing. Didn’t do enough to be a main contributor. Not really a finisher. He made no glaring mistakes, however, so that is something.

6. Brett Finch 7.5 Finch set the tone early by laying on the first try for Ryan Hoffman in the opening five minutes with a delightful short ball. Played second fiddle to Cronk all night but that is his job and he is one of the best second fiddles around.

7. Cooper Cronk 9 Robbed of the Churchill. Was the best player on the park and by a long way. Laid on two tries including the match winner to Inglis with a super bomb and a tremendous break in the first half that put Adam Blair over. His kicking game was critical. Never stopped trying. Never stopped having an impact.

8. Aiden Tolman 7 Polar Bear Mark II toiled away and showed tremendous courage for such a young player in taking it to Moimoi. He will be one of the key players in ensuring Melbourne’s dynasty continues on.

9. Cameron Smith 7.5 Always busy around the ruck. Never took a backward step in defence. Ensured Melbourne constantly played on the front foot. His quiet and sturdy leadership has been key to Melbourne’s success and it certainly played a role at the back end of 2009.

10. Brett White 7 Tried to shake Moimoi up. Didn’t succeed but kept him quietish for the first sixty minutes. Call it courage or stupidity but he is always prepared to tangle with his big opposite numbers.

11. Adam Blair 6.5 Scored a try but wasn’t really spotted much outside of that. He did well playing a touch wider than usual but he seemed to go missing a little.

12. Ryan Hoffman 7.5 He lurks out wide but he can play the fringes well and he put the Storm on top in the opening five minutes with a hard run off Brett Finch. Made good metres with the ball and did his share in defence.

13. Dallas Johnson 7 DJ tackles all day, as he always does, but showed plenty with the ball as well. Did plenty of running and even a bit of ball playing. Every successful team needs a DJ.

14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 5 I must have missed his time on the paddock.

15. Jeff Lima 6.5 He had a typically strong game with his carry and was one of the big boppers who helped lay the platform for victory.

16. Ryan Tandy 5 Didn’t see a lot of time on the paddock but let nobody down when he was on the park. Who would have thought he would own a premiership ring?

17. Scott Anderson 5 See Ryan Tandy comment.


1. Jarryd Hayne 6.5 Reportedly packed two left boots to the match. His kicking game suggests he played in them. Had Parramatta in bad field position early with constant kicking to Slater and Turner on the full. Took some bad last tackle options. Tried all day but the Storm’s defence was too disciplined for him to make an impact.

2. Luke Burt 6.5 Plucky as always and made some nice runs but there wasn’t much he could do behind a forward pack going backwards and outside a centre who can’t pass.

3. Krisnan Inu 4.5 Was a liability in defence and a non-contributor in attack. He can’t read an attacking play directed at him, he can’t run a decent inside line and he constantly cramps Luke Burt. Was ordinary again Sunday.

4. Joel Reddy 6 Didn’t see a lot of it but scored a late try to put the Eels back in it. Five missed tackles show that he was targeted and exploited in defence. Doesn’t really offer a lot and didn’t disappoint those expectations Sunday.

5. Eric Grothe 7.5 One of Parramatta’s best. He was strong with the ball and created plenty of second phase play with his tackle busts and his ability to offload. Scored a tough try. I have been a vocal critic of Grothe but this is a game he can be proud of.

6. Daniel Mortimer 7.5 He is going to be a star. For a kid so young in such a key position he was outstanding. Clearly the most dangerous Eel for much of the game, he ran hard and did nothing wrong in defence.

7. Jeff Robson 5 A forgettable game for the forgettable halfback. Struggled defensively with seven missed tackles and couldn’t get anything going in attack. Wasn’t the dominant halfback Parra required when the going got tough.

8. Nathan Cayless 6.5 Tough as a bed of nails, played with a torn hamstring for most of the match. Was an inspiration to the younger Eels but at the end of the day he caused little grief for the Storm.

9. Matt Keating 6.5 Faultless defensively but he couldn’t create any push from dummy half when the Eels were camped on their own line. A little slow when some sharpness could have turned the wheel of fortune.

10. Fuifui Moimoi 8 Parramatta’s best. Ripped in all day. Played big minutes. Scored one of the great Grand Final tries to get the Eels back within a score. Measured up against the Storm pack. He gave it his all and would have been close to winning the Churchill on a losing team.

11. Nathan Hindmarsh 8 He made 64 tackles with a busted shoulder and didn’t miss one in a typical Nathan Hindmarsh performance. It is just a shame he plays for Parramatta and will never win a premiership because there are few players more deserving. Another great performance from a champion.

12. Ben Smith 6.5 Made his tackles but really didn’t contribute much in attack and his defence certainly wasn’t bone shattering. A middle of the road worker who didn’t really lift for the big one.

13. Todd Lowrie 6 Didn’t offer much in his last game in Parramatta colours. Was a touch disappointing considering the expectations on him and his recent form.

14. Kevin Kingston 6 Had 25 minutes to make an impact. He didn’t.

15. Feleti Mateo 7.5 Had his finest game of the season with a big break and plenty of offloads. Made some poor mistakes but at least created some trouble for the Melbourne defence.

16. Joe Galuvao 5 Butchered a try at a critical time through his inability to get to his support. That was devastating to the Eels.

17. Tim Mannah 5 Didn’t offer the support from the bench to Cayless and Moimoi that he needed to.

Return of a Champion: In the best news of the week and possibly the year, beloved former Prime Minister John Howard is believed to be the man to head up a new NRL independent commission that would streamline and oversee the game in Australia. It is believed Howard has been approached by Gold Coast CEO Michael Searle on behalf of the committee looking into the commission. Rugby league needs an independent commission and it also needs to rid itself of the ugly factionalism that has been rife since Super League. It also needs an impartial statesman to lead the way. Howard is just that and more so he has proven to be someone who can overcome factions to get the important things done. Exciting times lie ahead for rugby league if John Howard is prepared to lend his hand at improving the sport.

Fun Fact #1: The first grade coaches of John Elias, a number of whom are reportedly going to be outed as drunks, gamblers and/or sexual deviants in his new book: Ron Willey, Warren Ryan, Steve Ghosn, Arthur Beetson, Russel Fairfax, Alan Jones, Wayne Pearce and Bob McCarthy.

Rumour of the Week: Storm assistant Michael Maguire will be appointed head coach of Wigan. Maguire is the best assistant coach in the NRL and has been a key member of the Storm team. His tactical nous combined with his outstanding ability to read a game has made him one of the most well respected assistants available. Stupidly, he was overlooked at Newcastle, the Roosters and Souths. Maguire should return to Australia as a head coach at some point in the next few seasons but there has not been a long history of head coaches in Super League getting jobs in Australia so Maguire may be permanently lost to the game here. Lets hope that is not the case.

Top 10 Assistant Coaches in the NRL: The best coaching prospects waiting for an opportunity…

1. Michael Maguire (Melbourne)
2. Shane Flanagan (Cronulla)
3. Stephen Kearney (Melbourne)
4. Jim Dymock (Canterbury)
5. Steve Folkes (Wests Tigers)
6. David Fairleigh (Parramatta)
7. Trent Robinson (Newcastle)
8. Matt Cameron (Parramatta)
9. Andrew McFadden (Canberra)
10. Adrian Lam (Roosters)

Kudos: Well done to the Bankstown Bulls for their big victory in the NSW Cup Grand Final. The Bulls touched up the Balmain Tigers 32-0. That Bulls team may not have been able to cut it in the NRL in 2008 but they sure dominated the NSW Cup in 2009.

Beard Watch: The Melbourne Storm went in with the fully formed beard of Dallas Johnson. The Eels went in clean shaven despite having some nice beards throughout the season. The end result was a clear cut win for the beard.

What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: The fact her and all her cronies at News Limited including her “sponsor” Phil Rothfield pushing Parramatta down the throats of all Sydney rugby league fans last week. Wilson and her lot have tried to unite Sydney against Melbourne and have once again missed the point. Rugby league is based on tribalism and the teams you hate the most are the ones closest and the ones you have the most history with. Any fair thinking Canterbury or Wests Tigers or Manly or Penrith fan should loathe the Eels and would have naturally been cheering Melbourne last Sunday. All this pro Parramatta rubbish from the Telegraph and Wilson was painful and shows how little they know about the foundations of rugby league.

Watch It: Most readers of this column have probably already seen the NRL Grand Final so we don’t need to worry about that anymore. It is doubtful many of you have seen these highlights of this season’s AMNRL Grand Final between the New York Knights and the Jacksonville Axemen. There are a number of highlights: the fact the match seems to be played well below ground level, the amateur looking touch judges, a photographer wandering the field, a referee who can’t keep up, blue line markings and yellow pads indicating where on the field you are. The action was pretty hot as well with some good straight running and plenty of creative attack. The match was of a good standard and is well worth a look. Click Here.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.