Nrl Grand Final
All league is local.
That’s what was forgotten 15 years ago, when the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs dropped the local area from its name and from its playing and training schedule.
In the last week we have seen the very best of how a local area can support a team, and even more importantly how a sporting team can uniquely support a local area. Before you accuse me of bias let me be clear, I am completely biased. It’s my local area and my local team. And I see both up close.
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An NRL superstar is a hero to the town of Whakatane, on the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. His name is Benji Marshall.
Marshall grew up there. Part of his family still lives there. He went to the local school until he was offered a scholarship to play for a rugby league team on the Gold Coast when he was 16.
“He’s a legend mate,” says the events manager for the Whakatane district council, Mike Van Der Boom. Marshall and his team didn’t make it through to this evening’s Grand Final. But with the New Zealand Warriors through to only their second rugby league grand final ever and the country hosting a Rugby World Cup where the All Blacks are strong contenders for the title, football fever is in the air in Whakatane.
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JARRYD Hayne brought two left boots to the Grand Final. Has there ever been a more tragic footy omen?
The kid from Minto, whose whole life had been preparing for this night, chucked his gear in his kitbag, got on the bus and only realised when it was too late that his signature red boots were both the same.
Parra officials ran around looking for spares. The Eels were gone before the band struck up the national anthem.
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When Fuifui Moimoi was penalised for
stripping the ball from holding on to Billy Slater in last night’s NRL grand final, it brought a sudden halt to a late surge by the Eels with four minutes to play.
Moments earlier Moimoi had scored in the corner, carrying two Storm players over the line with him on his hulking frame after barging through the defence in a 22m run. It marked the apogee of the Eels’ resurgence against a Melbourne side that was in control for most of the game.
Before the penalty, the Eels needed a converted try tie the game and force extra time. The way they were playing it looked possible. But with ball now in hand, the Storm kicked downfield and calmly positioned themselves for the field goal. Greg Inglis delivered. Job done for the Storm; fairytale over for the Eels.
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The Eels fought back bravely in the second half, but Melbourne Storm were ultimately too good in a blockbusting NRL Grand Final at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium. There’s a match report here and you can see how our coverage unfolded in the live blog over the jump.
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