Cowboys must up the ante in attack to beat Storm

James Maloney of the Blues is tackled by Justin O'Neill of the Maroons during State of Origin game three in 2016

Melbourne have completed a near-perfect season and sent Cooper Cronk out a victor with a 34-6 rout of North Queensland to claim the 2017 NRL premiership.

Australia's passion for professional sport is set to go off this weekend yet you might have missed one of the more unusual passions associated with NRL during the past few seasons.

A key battle will be between the old bull and Storm superstar Cooper Cronk and Michael Morgan, who is in incredible form.

Will Chambers created space for Addo-Carr, beating a trio of players before offloading for the speedster, who brilliantly swerved through the Cowboys on a sizzling 70m run that Storm fans will never forget. A lovely length-of-the-field effort was finished by Josh Ado-Carr, a player who could run 10.6 for the 100m when he was 16, and a player who the Wests Tigers were unable to get the best out of in season 2016. They weren't even supposed to make the finals but a slip-up from the Dragons meant the Cowboys had to put down their beers and pick up their boots again at a time of year they'd have been expecting to plan an off-season trip rather than playing footy.

The match is expected to be the last time Melbourne's big three of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater take the field in Storm colours. They got plenty of assistance from their dominant forward pack and some moment of brilliance from exciting young stars like Josh Addo-Carr.

However, their hopes quickly diminished as Storm's Dale Finucane scored his first try in four Grand Final appearances shortly afterwards, before Addo-Carr rounded off a fantastic day for Melbourne.

Finding holes in the Storm is hard, but if you were looking for negatives, you could - before this victory - have pointed to their failure to convert competition dominance into title victories. "That scoreline doesn't reflect the effort we put in through this year".

The injured Thurston will be watching the grand final from the stands after hurting his shoulder months ago and was asked what he'd be willing sacrifice in order to play in the last match of the NRL season.

Off the ball the Cowboys have increased their efficiency in defence through the play-offs too, and after averaging 32.5 missed tackles per game through the regular season have sliced that number down to an impressive 22.3 over the past three weeks.

The best chance the Cowboys have of upsetting the Storm is to get up in the favourites' faces early.

All the Cowboys are operating at peak capacity and I will fight you if you say otherwise.

North Queensland protested but in all likelihood the collision mattered little.

This was the Storm's sixth grand final in the last decade. "Basically what we planned, we did it for 80 minutes".



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