2012 NRL Grand Final
The 2012 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 2012 NRL season. Played on Sunday, 30 September at Sydney's ANZ Stadium between the minor premiers Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the second-placed Melbourne Storm. Melbourne won the match 14–4 in a tight contest to claim their second premiership title after their 2007 and 2009 titles were stripped due to major salary cap breaches.
|2012NRL Grand Final|
|Date||30 September 2012|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Cooper Cronk (MEL)|
|Australian National anthem||Sarah De Bono|
Paul Holland (Touch Judge)
Russell Turner (Touch Judge)
This was the fourth time the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm have faced each other in a finals series and the first in a grand final. It was the fifth time in the past seven seasons the Melbourne Storm featured in a grand final, although they were playing for their second official title. The Bulldogs played in their first decider since 2004 when they defeated the Sydney Roosters to win their last premiership. It was also the third time coaches Craig Bellamy and Des Hasler oversaw their sides in a premiership decider after each claimed grand final success in their 2007 and 2008 meetings.
|Legend: Win Loss|
Melbourne and Canterbury have faced each other twice in the regular season, with the Storm beating the Bulldogs 12-6 in a tight match at Melbourne's home ground in AAMI Park in round 7 whilst the Bulldogs got over the Storm later in round 16 with a score of 20-4 at Canterbury's non-traditional venue at Virgin Australia Stadium in Mackay, Queensland.
Tickets to the grand final were sold out by 22 August, more than two weeks before finals playoffs begun.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs finished first on the regular season competition ladder, claiming the 2012 minor premiership with 18 wins from 24 matches and finishing on 40 premiership points. This was the club's 7th minor premiership in its history and its first since 1994. The Bulldog's 2012 season was characterised by a 12-game winning streak from round 11 to round 24, which was eventually ended after a 34-6 defeat to the Canberra Raiders in round 25. This loss gave Melbourne a chance to claim the minor premiership, however a 42-10 win over the Sydney Roosters in round 26 ensured the Bulldogs finished first.
The Bulldogs began the 2012 finals series with a 16-10 win over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to ensure a preliminary final berth in week 3. They subsequently won this match 32-8 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs to qualify for the 2012 grand final against the Storm.
This was the Bulldogs 17th grand final appearance and the club's first since 2004.
The Melbourne Storm finished second on the regular season competition leader just behind the Bulldogs on 38 premiership points, with 17 wins from 24 games. The Storm's 2012 season was characterised by a 9-game winning streak from round 1 to round 9, making them early premiership favourites. The Storm subsequently suffered a 5-game losing streak from round 16 to round 21, allowing the Bulldogs to overtake them to win the minor premiership. Despite this, the Storm finished the season winning their last 5 consecutive matches to finish second.
The Storm began week 1 of the finals with a 24-6 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs to qualify for a preliminary final in week 3 against modern rivals the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. The Storm won this match 40-12 to qualify for the 2012 NRL Grand Final against the Bulldogs.
This was the Storm's fifth grand final appearance in seven seasons and its sixth appearance overall.
|Ben Barba||Fullback||Billy Slater|
|Sam Perrett||Wing||Sisa Waqa|
|Josh Morris||Centre||Dane Nielsen|
|Krisnan Inu||Centre||Will Chambers|
|Jonathan Wright||Wing||Justin O'Neill|
|Josh Reynolds||Five-eighth||Gareth Widdop|
|Kris Keating||Halfback||Cooper Cronk|
|Aiden Tolman||Prop||Jesse Bromwich|
|Michael Ennis (c)||Hooker||Cameron Smith (c)|
|Sam Kasiano||Prop||Bryan Norrie|
|Frank Pritchard||2nd Row||Kevin Proctor|
|Josh Jackson||2nd Row||Ryan Hoffman|
|Greg Eastwood||Lock||Todd Lowrie|
|James Graham||Interchange||Sika Manu|
|Dale Finucane||Interchange||Ryan Hinchcliffe|
|Corey Payne||Interchange||Jaiman Lowe|
|David Stagg||Interchange||Richie Fa'aoso|
|Des Hasler||Coach||Craig Bellamy|
Note: Kevin Proctor swapped with Sika Manu from his interchange spot before the match.
Sunday, 30 October
|Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs||4 – 14||Melbourne Storm|
Perrett (25') 1
|1st: 4 - 14
2nd: 0 - 0
1 (7') Hoffman
1 (32') Slater
1 (39') O'Neill
1/5 (32') Smith
The Storm began the first half with all the early possession, punishing a number of errors by the Bulldogs with several repeat sets. The relentless pressure was rewarded with a 7th minute try to Ryan Hoffman, bursting through a yawning gap after taking Gareth Widdop's lovely short ball 10m out from the line to make it 4-0. Storm captain Cameron Smith missed the conversion. The Storm continued to pressure the Bulldogs’ try line over the next few minutes but they held strong, forcing the Storm to attempt a penalty conversion which was missed by Smith.
The Bulldogs took this as a sign of respect to their brutal defense and went on the attack, resulting in a 25th minute try to Sam Perrett, who beat Storm fullback Billy Slater to Krisnan Inu's perfectly placed grubber kick. As Perrett dived over, Slater accidentally barged into him in his attempts to stop the try. Inu, reacting to what he thought was an illegal play by Slater, pushed the Storm fullback away, sparking an all in brawl which led to the one of the biggest controversies in Grand Final history. Once the fight was broken up, Slater claimed that he was bitten on the ear by Bulldogs prop James Graham. Video showed the fullback had blood coming from his ear and replays confirmed the allegations, clearly showing Graham biting Slater's ear. Referee Tony Archer placed the incident on report and it was referred straight to the judiciary; Graham later received a 12 match ban. The try was awarded to Perrett, however, Inu missed the conversion and the score was locked at 4-4.
The Storm used the controversial incident to spur them on, relaying the pressure on the Bulldogs. They capitalized in the 32nd minute where Storm halfback Cooper Cronk delivering a sublime no look pass to Slater as he burst through a gap beating two defenders to cross for the Storm, taking the score out to 10-4 after Smith's conversion. The Storm were not done just yet, as they delivered the knockout blow a minute before halftime where Cronk supplied a pinpoint cross field bomb to Justin O’Neil who leapt over Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba to score the Storm's third try. Smith missed the conversion once more and the Storm led 14-4 at halftime.
The second half was a defensive slog. The Storm didn't touch the ball in the opening 10 minutes, holding out set after set of the Bulldogs attack. Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis seemed to have scored in the 49th minute only to be denied by Cameron Smith holding him up. The Storm went down the other end and Smith missed another penalty conversion, failing in his attempts to make it a two converted try lead. The closest the Bulldogs came to scoring was in the 61st minute where Barba made a break down the left hand wing, kicked over the top to centre Josh Morris, who failed to capitalise due to the bounce of the ball and Slater's desperate defending. Storm prop Brian Norrie appeared to have scored a try in the 70th minute, diving over after Slater batted back Cronk's bomb, however it was to be denied as Norrie was offside. The Storm held on to win the Grand Final 14-4. Storm halfback Cooper Cronk was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for his man of the match performance.
The crowd of 82,976 was the highest Grand Final attendance at ANZ Stadium ever since it was re-constructed in 2002 and it was the first Grand Final to have a scoreless half of play. The Storm's 2012 triumph was their 2nd legitimate title. The result also saw Storm coach Craig Bellamy take home his first valid championship.
- Jancetic, Steve (30 September 2012). "Storm win NRL decider 14-4 over Bulldogs". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- skynews.com.au (22 August 2012). "NRL Grand Final sold out". Sky News. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- "Storm fullback Billy Slater's ear appears to show bite marks". Retrieved 4 September 2013.