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Sport Storm take out the NRL crown for Victoria

00:15  26 october  2020
00:15  26 october  2020 Source:   aap.com.au

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Smith leads the Storm down the tunnel and out into the stadium to a chorus of boos from the “home” crowd. The minor premiers burst out of the tunnel to a rock soundtrack and a hearty welcome. Sure, the NRL had to demonstrate a degree of agility and deal with a few curveballs along the way

Melbourne Storm showed the difference between experience and enthusiasm, holding on for a 26-20 win against the Penrith Panthers in the NRL Grand Final on Sunday night. Post-match, Smith praised his side for an incredible effort, being away from Victoria for five months because of COVID-19.

Make no mistake of it. Melbourne's NRL grand final win was for Victoria.

The storm celebrate their win in the NRL Grand Final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium in Sydney © AAP The storm celebrate their win in the NRL Grand Final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium in Sydney

With a large V emblazoned on their chest, the Storm's home state was never far from their mind during their Sunshine Coast camp or on the field this year.

And never was it any clearer than when Cameron Smith pointed to it as he addressed his players on Sunday night, just moments before they ran out and beat Penrith 26-20.

"That's what it was all about for us," coach Craig Bellamy said.

"This group with (the connection of) their families playing for the people of Victoria.

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Melbourne Storm have won two premierships in the past decade, while Penrith Panthers fans have suffered "Cameron's been an absolute soldier. If he wants to go out on his own so be it, he's still got plenty more Top Stories. Melbourne Storm hold on to defeat Panthers in dramatic NRL grand final.

Victory is the Storm 's third NRL premiership in the last decade, in what could be legendary captain Cameron Smith's final game. Ryan Papenhuyzen capped off a fine individual performance with a runaway try to push the Storm 's lead even further out , before the Panthers staged a late comeback.

"I know that sounds a bit (corny), but it's true.

"We got some real strength out of that."

Aside from the Warriors, the Storm felt the impact of the virus as much as any team.


Video: Cam Smith wins his 3rd NRL Premiership (Wide World of Sports)

They didn't play one game in front of a home crowd this year, and haven't been in their own homes since June.

The team spent a week in Sydney unsure where they'd land for the remainder of the season, and within a fortnight it was clear they wouldn't return home.

It's therefore fitting that despite Victoria and Melbourne copping the harshest lockdowns in the country with little reprieve since March, their teams have succeeded.

"It's a tough time back in Victoria," Clive Churchill medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen said.

"It's a tough time back there at the moment and we wear the V on our jersey proudly.

"I can't wait to go back there and celebrate."

The Storm's success came after Richmond's in the AFL on Saturday night, marking the second time in four years both major football codes have been won by Victorian sides.

It was also just the third time in history that two Victorian teams have faced off in the AFL decider, while Melbourne reigned supreme in the NRL.

All now hope they can return to playing there in 2021.

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