2009 NRL Grand Final
|2009NRL Grand Final|
|Date||Sunday 4 October 2009|
|Location||Sydney, NSW, Australia|
|Clive Churchill Medallist||Billy Slater (MEL)|
|National anthem||Mark Vincent|
|Referees||Tony Archer, Shayne Hayne|
|Commentators||Ray Warren, Peter Sterling, Phil Gould|
The 2009 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the NRL's 2009 Telstra Premiership season. Played on 4 October 2009 at Sydney's ANZ Stadium was contested between the Parramatta Eels and the Melbourne Storm, the latter competing in their 4th grand final in a row. It was also the first Grand Final to feature the two referee system, with Shayne Hayne and Tony Archer being the first referees to jointly officiate in an NRL Grand Final.
The Melbourne Storm led 10–0 at halftime and fought off a Parramatta comeback to eventually win 23–16 and claim their third premiership since entering the competition. This has since been stripped due to salary cap breaches. Melbourne went on to defeat the Leeds Rhinos, winners of the 2009 Super League Grand Final, in the 2010 World Club Challenge. The latter title was also stripped from the Storm.
The Melbourne Storm finished the regular season in 4th position with 14 wins, nine losses and one draw. As the minor premiers of the last three seasons and premiers in 2007, some commentators believed that the Storm were below their best in 2009 and doubted they would make a 4th straight grand final. But in the first week of the finals series they easily accounted for the defending premiers, the Manly Sea Eagles, with a 40 – 12 victory. They then defeated the 2006 premiers, the Brisbane Broncos, 40 – 10 to qualify for the grand final. The Melbourne Storm are the first side to make four consecutive grand finals since the Eels did so in 1981–84.
Melbourne five-eighth Brett Finch had a chance to break his premiership drought by defeating the side that terminated his contract in April 2009 when coach Daniel Anderson said he was not wanted at the Parramatta club.
After a dreadful first half of the season and languishing in 14th position, the Parramatta Eels won 9 of their last 12 games to finish 8th and just make the finals. In the first three weeks of the finals series they defeated the top three teams of the home and away season – minor premiers the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Gold Coast Titans, and arch-rivals the Canterbury Bulldogs. The last time the Eels made the grand final was 2001 where they were defeated by the Newcastle Knights and the last time they won the premiership was in 1986. They were the first team to come from 8th position to make the NRL Grand Final and if they had of won they would have been the first team ever ranked below 6th to win the premiership. Canterbury's appearance in the 1998 grand final came from 9th position, but under a different finals system.
Parramatta Eels fullback and Dally M Medallist Jarryd Hayne was in danger of missing the match after being placed on report for sliding in with his knees out to stop a try and connecting with the head of Bulldog's winger Bryson Goodwin. The incident was reviewed by the NRL Match Review Panel on 27 September and Hayne received a grade one sentence, allowing him to play. This set up one of the great grand final match-ups as Hayne played opposite current Melbourne and Australian fullback and 2008 Golden Boot Winner Billy Slater.
Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless was under an injury cloud after he strained his hamstring in the preliminary final. He passed an intense fitness test on the day before the game to take his place in the grand final. It was a great boost to the Eels to have three 2001 NRL Grand Final Veterans playing.
The two sides faced each other once in the regular season in round 19. The Eels won 18-16 at Parramatta Stadium on 20 July.
The 2009 NRL Grand Final featured pre-match entertainment by the Grammy award-winning Australian rock band Wolfmother while Irish band The Script performed at halftime. 2008 Australian Idol winner Wes Carr performed a tribute to the elite club of players who have played 300 Premiership games, while the game's retiring players were farewelled. Prior to kick-off the Child Flight helicopter and members of the game's "300 Club" delivered the Telstra Premiership Trophy to ANZ Stadium.
- 11:45am Gates Open
- 12:10pm NSWRL Cup Grand Final Kick Off
- 2:10pm Toyota Cup Grand Final Kick Off
- 4:10pm World boxing champions Danny Green and Roy Jones Jr presented to crowd
- 4:40pm Telstra Child Flight chopper arrives with Telstra Premiership Trophy
- 4:45pm 300 Club and Retiring Players tribute with Wes Carr Performance
- 4:50pm Wolfmother performance
- 5:10pm Australian National Anthem performed by Mark Vincent
- 5:15pm Kick-off
- 6:05pm The Script halftime performance
- 6:55pm Trophy presentation to Melbourne Storm
Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman broke the Eels' line to score the first try of the game in the fifth minute to make the score 6–0. Parramatta was looking shaky in the first half, and Melbourne capitalised with a try to Adam Blair in the 24th minute, set up by a Cooper Cronk line-break, to make the score 10–0, which would be the half-time score.
Parramatta scored early in the second half, with Eric Grothe, Jr., scoring in the 45th minute to bring the scoreline to 10–6. Melbourne responded quickly, with tries to Greg Inglis off a bomb kick in the 49th minute and Billy Slater from a line break in the 56th minute, to open a handy 22–6 lead heading into the final quarter of the game. Parramatta attacked through the final quarter of the game, then broke through for two tries: one to Joel Reddy off a bomb kick in the 70th minute, then a barnstorming run from Fuifui Moimoi off an off-load in the 72nd minute; only the former of these tries was converted, bringing the score to 22–16. In the 76th minute, with Melbourne attacking from their own half, Billy Slater dropped the ball as he tried to play it. Referee Tony Archer signaled a penalty for Melbourne. It was initially thought that Archer had penalised Fuifui Moimoi for stripping the ball from Slater in the tackle, even though both of Moimoi's arms were still wrapped around Slater's legs, but it was later revealed he had penalised Moimoi for holding on to Slater, not for a strip. Greg Inglis scored a field goal in the ensuing set-of-six, extending the margin to 23–16 in the 79th minute. Melbourne would hold on to win by that score.
Clive Churchill Medal
Melbourne fullback Billy Slater was judged by Australian selectors Bob McCarthy, Bob Fulton, Les Geeves and Des Morris to be awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match. Slater became the first fullback since Bronco Darren Lockyer in the 2000 NRL Grand Final to win the prestigious award. Slater became the third Storm player to win the Churchill Medal, after Brett Kimmorley (1999) and Greg Inglis (2007).
Some commentators felt that Slater did not deserve the award, suggesting other Melbourne teammates such as halfback Cooper Cronk, citing Cronk's stats which included two try assists to Slater's one, 24 tackles and 16 kicks for 529 metres, dwarfing the combined 387 metres booted by the Eels' Jarryd Hayne (226) and Jeff Robson (161). Upon receiving his award, Slater even mentioned "I feel like I don't deserve to wear it… Cooper Cronk deserved it." Despite the criticism, selectors stood by their decision.
4 October 2009, 5:15pm
|Tries||1 Hoffman (5')
1 Blair (24')
1 Inglis (49')
1 Slater (55')
|Goals||3/4 C Smith (7', 50', 57')|
|Field Goals||1 Inglis (77')|
|Tries||1 Grothe (45')
1 Reddy (70')
1 Moimoi (72')
|Goals||2/3 Burt (46', 70')|
Half Time: 10 – 0
5th: Storm 6 – 0 (Try: Hoffman, Goal: C Smith)
24th: Stom 10 – 0 (Try: Blair)
45th: Storm 10 – 6 (Try: Grothe, Goal: Burt)
49th: Storm 16 – 6 (Try: Ingis, Goal: C Smith)
55th: Storm 22 – 6 (Try: Slater, Goal: C Smith)
70th: Storm 22 – 12 (Try: Reddy, Goal: Burt)
72nd: Storm 22 – 16 (Try: Moimoi)
77th: Storm 23 – 16 (Field Goal: Inglis)
The 2009 NRL Grand Final was the biggest individual event in Australian sports betting history. TAB Sportsbet held a total of $9,527,000 on the game, 40% higher than the 2008 decider which had $6.8 million. Spokesperson Glenn Munsie said TAB Sportsbet was "looking at a $10.3 million payout on the premiership" with all bets included.
The NRL Grand Final is one of the most popular sporting events of Australasia, and the 2009 NRL grand final was played before a sold-out crowd of 82,538 – the largest rugby league crowd at ANZ Stadium in its current configuration – with millions more watching around Australia and the rest of the world.
- Australia – Nine Network (live from 5pm AEST with coverage beginning at 12pm). A replay of the game will be played on Fox Sports at 8pm AEST on the same night.
- New Zealand – Sky Sports (live from 6:30pm NZ time)
- Asia-Pacific – Australia Network (includes China, Hong Kong/Macau, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Palau, Malaysia, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar, Laos, Brunei, Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, East Timor, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Micronesia, Kiribati)
- Indian subcontinent – Australia Network (includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan)
- Middle East – Australia Network and ShowSports
- United States and Canada – Spike TV (from 11am ET/PT)(also shown throughout all the countries in The Americas region.)
- Ireland and the United Kingdom – ESPN UK (live from 7am)
Nine Network Criticism
The Nine Network was criticised on talkback radio, internet blogs, news sites and the Herald Sun newspaper for not broadcasting the post match celebrations, such as the trophy and medal presentations outside of NSW and QLD, the outrage most evident in Melbourne due to Melbourne Storm winning the game, and also due to the large number of Storm supporters at the Melbourne Storm function who could not make the trip to Sydney. One point made by viewers was that the post match was broadcast to international viewers but not those in Australian capital cities such as Melbourne or Adelaide.
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