The AFL Grand Final set the table for an equally compelling end to the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition, but unfortunately, the Roosters were the only diners, feasting on Melbourne to produce a 21 – 6 win over the Storm.
The Clive Churchill Medal went to Luke Keary, which means, we suppose, that Melbourne took home the Winston Churchill Medal.
Keary definitely deserved the accolade, as he halves partner Cooper Cronk was in the game, but with a broken shoulder bone, he could do little other than observe from one of the better vantage points available at ANZ Stadium, where 82,000 – plus turned out to send a Victorian club to a second Grand Final loss in the span of two days.
Keary was with the other Sydney club, the Rabbitohs, for a premiership in 2014, so perhaps it is time for him to head north and revive the Broncos, although helping the Titans might be asking for too much.
Keary was all over the ground, setting up the Chooks first try with a sublimely superb cut-out pass to Daniel Tupou. He added the capper with a field goal in the 69th minute.
While he was hero for most of the game, he threw an intercept pass that led to Melbourne’s only try, a score by Josh Addo-Carr in the 63rd minute, but with his side up 18 – 0 at the end of the first half, it was more charity than blunder.
“To our boys, we did it. It’s been an awesome year,” Keary said after accepting the medal. “The medal, everyone’s got a little bit of it, all 30 of us. All the support staff, I can’t thank you enough.”
Melbourne was at the head of the competition for much of the season, but appeared to stumble and lose momentum toward the end. They picked at bad time to run into a hot Sydney team, such that a winged Cronk could act more as a coach than as a player.