Live: Melbourne Storm hold on to defeat Panthers in grand final

The Melbourne Storm have held off the surging Penrith Panthers 26-20 to claim its fourth NRL premiership in a dramatic grand final at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.

The Storm led 22-0 at half time, blowing the Panthers away on the scoreboard despite the two sides appearing relatively evenly matched.

The Panthers rallied in the second half after a controversial try was awarded to Brian To’o despite there appearing to be a clear instance of obstruction in the build up.

Two more tries followed for the Panthers, the second after the Storm were reduced to 12 men when Jahrome Hughes was sent off for a professional foul.

The Storm then had Brandon Smith sent off in the final minute, with Nathan Clearly reducing the deficit to six points with a last gasp try and three seconds remaining on the clock.

But the Panthers could not go the length of the field in time added on, handing the Storm its fourth Premiership.

Earlier, the Brisbane Broncos won their third straight NRLW title with a 20-10 win over the Sydney Roosters.

Follow all the action in our live blog.

Key events

Live updates

2hours agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 8:16am

By Jon Healy

Pinned

2020 NRL GRAND FINAL

3minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:56am

By Jon Healy

Players can’t celebrate with their families

Ryan Papenhuyzen and Cameron Smith have both spoken about how they can’t hug their partners and kids because of the bubble. That’s got to be tough.

          

“Unfortunately can’t give them a hug or a kiss or anything like that, but a great feeling,” Smith said.

       

“I’m just really proud of not just this football team that played tonight, but the entire squad.

               

“There’s a handful of players there that trained hard every day and applied it all year to help the 17 going out on the weekend and they didn’t even get a game of football this year.

         

“The entire squad has done a fantastic effort. We haven’t been home for about five months. Just with the conditions that we’ve been under, I think it’s just a remarkable effort to be here tonight and to get a victory.”

6minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:53am

By Jon Healy

Nathan Cleary is gutted

He’s beating himself up as if he lost the team the game, which he definitely did not.

         

“I let the boys down, but hopefully we’ll be back.

           

“There were a few moments that intercept and obviously the one at half-time, and, yeah, we just let in too many ordinary tries. They were too good.”

         

That’s tough to watch for a kid who’s had such a great season.

13minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:46am

By Jon Healy

Key Event

THE STORM WIN THE GRAND FINAL 26-20!

(AAP)

           

After a nervous and insane minute of hot potato, the ball found its way into the hands of Felise Kafusi, and that ended things.

           

Justin Olam is beside himself in tears. Cameron Smith is running around like a headless chook trying to find all his people.

           

The end of that game was actually ridiculous and Brandon Smith would have been excommunicated had the Panthers pulled that off.

           

The first sin-bin was understandable, but the Storm tried to get too cute when they should have just played footy, and it almost cost them.

15minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:44am

By Jon Healy

TRY TIME CLEARY! WOW!! IS IT ON?!?!

He’s declined the kick, so they’ll have a set against 11 MEN!!

15minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:44am

By Jon Healy

80th minute: SIN BIN FOR BRANDON SMITH!

     

He was intentionally wasting time and he’s off, pushed off the field by Josh Mansour.

16minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:43am

By Jon Healy

78th minute: The Panthers are getting offloads away at will.

         

They had them dead to rights on the right, but Justin Olam comes up with a banger of a legs tackle on Naden.

             

DROPOUT! The Koroisau grubber was perfectly weighted and Vunivalu had a brain melt, leaving the ball behind for some unknown reason. But Papenhuyzen cleaned up.

18minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:40am

By Jon Healy

77th minute: Trying to be careful, Smith goes too slow and throws a forward pass. The Panthers have a scrum 90 metres away from points.

19minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:40am

By Jon Healy

76th minute: REPEAT SET!

     

Ryan Papenhuyzen grubbers into the in-goal and gets the dropout. Those two kicks might have secured him the Clive Churchill Medal. It’s certainly up for grabs. It’ll probably be Smith though.

20minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:38am

By Jon Healy

75th minute: The bomb goes up from Papenhuyzen, and the Panthers knock on!!

         

Storm with the ball and a full set right on Penrith’s line.

22minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:36am

By Jon Healy

74th minute: The Storm need to defend on halfway because they can’t stop them close to the line.

             

Shocking kick by Luai. They were on the front foot and he launched a bomb way too deep. Seven tackles from the 20 for Melbourne.

25minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:34am

By Jon Healy

JOSH MANSOUR IS IN!!

Game on!

             

Jarome Luai floated a miracle ball out to Mansour and he’s dotted down out wide.

           

The conversion misses, but the Panthers are right in it. Storm lead 26-16 but they have 12 men and seven and a half minutes left.

25minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:33am

By Jon Healy

72nd minute:  The Storm are right up against it here.

            

The Panthers have them in trouble up the middle and wide.

26minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:32am

By Jon Healy

72nd minute: Penrith won’t be told this game is over.

             

We’re off to the bunker again. Jahrome Hughes could be off to the sin bin here.

                 

JAHROME HUGHES SIN-BINNED!

              

Cleary grubbered through and Hughes changed his angle to obstruct Viliame Kikau. It’s not a penalty try, but Hughes is off for 10 minutes.

         

The Storm will end this game with 12 men. Can they hold on.

29minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:30am

By Jon Healy

70th minute: The Panthers get a dubious penalty after a Fisher-Harris dropped ball. And the Panthers try to go quickly, but a Storm trainer stopped the game for an HIA on Kaufusi. That looked dodgy. The trainer called for it from a long way away.

31minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:28am

By Jon Healy

This will take the smirk off Clearys face

-Graham Alboe

           

I spy a Tigers fan.

32minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:27am

By Jon Healy

CRICHTON GOES IN!!

A very simple left-side shift from the Panthers and the Storm seemed to have it covered, but Stephen Crichton did a number on Brenko Lee to get inside and over the line. Too strong, too slick, too good.

               

Cleary converts and it’s 26-12 to the Storm with 10 minutes left.

32minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:27am

By Jon Healy

68th minute: The Panthers break down the right and Naden gets a miracle ball around the corner back inside to Cleary. He’s wrapped up, but they try again on the left.

             

And again the ball dies with Kikau. Great tackle by Nelson Asofa-Solomona, but another poor play by the big back rower.

34minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:24am

By Jon Healy

67th minute: Cameron Smith reckons he had an arm stuck in Crichton’s nook in the tackle, but the ref doesn’t want a bar of it. Penalty.

         

But Ryan Papenhuyzen won’t let it find touch!!!

        

          

Amazing athleticism to give the Storm a bonus set.

36minutes agoSunday 25 October 2020 at 10:23am

By Jon Healy

66th minute: The Panthers break down the left and Mansour tries to streak past the defence, but he gets corralled and his pass back inside ends up with Lee.