Melbourne Storm win NRL grand final in front of over 37,000 fans

Melbourne Storm players celebrate after winning the NRL grand final. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Melbourne Storm win NRL grand final in front of over 37,000 fans

  • The match could be the last for champion Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith

SYDNEY: The Melbourne Storm led 22-0 at halftime and went on to beat the Penrith Panthers 26-20 in the National Rugby League grand final on Sunday.

The result ended a 17-game winning streak for the Panthers.

The match was played before 37,303 fans, well below the stadium’s capacity of 85,000 and restricted due to coronavirus protocols.

The match could be the last for champion Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith, who has yet to announce if he will play on for his 20th NRL season in 2021.

In a nerve-wracking finish at the Sydney Olympic stadium, Penrith came from 26-0 down with 28 minutes to play to reduce the margin to 6 points with just three seconds remaining.

With the Storm down to 11 men with Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith in the sin-bin, Penrith had one final play to level it from the kick-off after a late Nathan Cleary try.

But after they went back-and-forth across the field, the ball landed in Felize Kaufusi’s hands to wrap up Melbourne’s fourth NRL title.

“If there was another couple of minutes on the clock, I don’t know what would’ve happened there,” Smith said.

The Storm players didn’t have it easy on their way to the league title.

They haven’t slept in their own beds since June, having been forced into camp, first in Sydney before settling on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland state, due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

“With the conditions that we’ve been under, I think it’s a remarkable effort to be here tonight and get a victory,” Smith said. “We haven’t been home for about five months. We did it the hard way with 11 men in the end.”

Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen won the 2020 Clive Churchill medal as the grand final’s player of the match.

The 22-year-old Papenhuyzen scored a second-half try from inside his own quarter, ran for a game-high 187 meters and made two tackle breaks in the Storm’s victory.


FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

Updated 03 December 2020

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

  • The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Romain Grosjean’s life

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Motor racing chiefs announced on Thursday the launch of an investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fiery Bahrain crash, saying the forensic probe would take “around six to eight” weeks to complete.
The French Formula One driver somehow wrenched himself free from his blazing Haas car with just burns to his hands and a broken left foot after a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the first lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix. He left hospital on Wednesday.
In the immediate aftermath of the shocking smash there was widespread praise for modern safety measures in the sport, but also concern over what F1’s motor sport managing director Ross Brawn described as “unpredictable” failures.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said it had “initiated a detailed analysis of Romain Grosjean’s accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.”
The FIA’s safety director, Adam Baker, said: “With so much data available in Formula 1, it allows us to accurately determine every element of what occurred and this work has already begun.
“We take this research very seriously and will follow a rigorous process to find out exactly what happened before proposing potential improvements.”
The FIA probe will look at a range of factors including Grosjean’s helmet, safety harness, headrest, in-car extinguisher and the Halo cockpit protection.
The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Grosjean’s life as his car was sliced in two after careering into a barrier.
“The ‘halo’ saved the day and it saved Romain,” Brawn said on Sunday.
“There was controversy in developing it initially, but there can’t be any doubt now, so hats off to those who pushed for the introduction.”
But he added: “The fire is worrying. The split in the barrier is worrying and the barrier coming apart, but we can be happy with the safety of the car – that got us through today, but things failed in an unpredictable way.
“We haven’t seen anything like that for a very long time, but the barrier splitting normally results in a fatality.”
At the circuit new safety measures have been introduced to reduce the risk of a repeat crash at this Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Two rows of tires wrapped in a conveyor belt have been installed in front of a reconstructed guardrail at the exit of Turn Three.
Several drivers expressed serious concerns at the failure of the barrier and the manner in which it was punctured.
In other changes to the circuit, where this weekend’s Grand Prix will be using the shorter “outer loop’, a kerb has been removed at Turn Nine – which was used as Turn 13 last Sunday – and a tire barrier in the approach to that corner has been extended and enlarged to four rows in depth.
Grosjean left hospital on Wednesday and in an Instagram post he highlighted the professionalism of a marshal with an extinguisher and the FIA doctor in the following Safety Car, who was on the scene very quickly.
“I told him he was a hero,” said Grosjean.
“He went into the fire as much as he could to save me. I felt Ian’s hands pulling me over the barrier and I knew I was safe... life will never be the same again.”
Grosjean is resting and healing from burns at a hotel in Abu Dhabi where he hopes he will be fit enough to race in the season-closing race next weekend.