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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2006, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Broncos edge Storm for NRL title
Shane Webcke and captain Darren Lockyer celebrates Brisbane's victory
The retiring Webcke (left) and captain Lockyer celebrate victory

Brisbane: (8) 15
Tries: Hodges, Tate
Goals: Lockyer 2, Parker
Drop: Lockyer

Melbourne: (4) 8
Tries: Turner, King

Brisbane Broncos maintained their perfect record in NRL Grand Finals as they overcame Melbourne Storm 15-8 in Sydney to win their sixth title.

They sent veteran prop Shane Webcke into retirement on a high as Brent Tate's second-half try and Darren Lockyer's drop-goal clinched victory.

Storm levelled the scores at 8-8 with a Matt King try, after Steve Turner's score gave them a first-half lead.

But Lockyer's kicking and a Justin Hodges try put Brisbane on their way.

Melbourne, slight favourites after winning the minor premiership, could consider themselves unlucky after a critical no-try ruling by the video referee went against them.

With Brisbane clinging to a 14-8 lead, Melbourne half-back Cooper Cronk put up a bomb that both Broncos full-back Hodges and Storm forward Ryan Hoffman jumped for but failed to catch.

Centre King grabbed the rebound and got across the line to put the ball down, with replays appearing to show the ball came off Hodges' hand, onto Hoffman's head and then into King's arms.

But the video referee ruled otherwise, giving the Broncos a fortunate reprieve.

Hodges was again fortunate moments later when he touched a Storm pass but referee Paul Simpkins ruled it had instead come off Matt Geyer before going into touch.

With both calls going against Melbourne, the retiring Webcke, playing his 251st game for Brisbane, stepped in to set up the clinching score.

He has embraced leadership and I knew he was the key to victory

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett on Darren Lockyer
The 32-year-old charged through three opponents to make an extra 10m, giving Lockyer the perfect field position to slot a drop-goal eight minutes from time.

Melbourne had responded to Lockyer's early penalty with a try from winger Steve Turner, and King's touchdown drew them level.

But the Broncos finished stronger to claim their sixth title in 15 seasons and their first since 2000, making Wayne Bennett the most successful coach in Australian rugby league history.

"This one is pretty special, up there with the best ones," said Bennett.

"We wanted to take on Melbourne at their strength, and we were confident enough to do that."

As well as praising the retiring Webcke - "he deserves every accolade the game gives him" - Bennett also lauded Lockyer's leadership qualities.

"He has embraced leadership and I knew he was the key to victory," Bennett added.

"He knows how to play to a game plan, and he drives the players to do it. I thought he was outstanding for us."


Brisbane: Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Brent Tate, David Stagg, Karmichael Hunt, Darren Lockyer (captain), Shane Perry, Shane Webcke, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday, Brad Thorn, Tonie Carroll.
Replacements: Corey Parker, Dane Carlaw, Ben Hannant, Casey McGuire.

Melbourne: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Greg Inglis, Steve Turner, Scott Hill, Cooper Cronk, Antonio Kaufusi, Cameron Smith, Brett White, David Kidwell, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson.
Replacements: Adam Blair, Jeremy Smith, Ben Cross, Nathan Friend.


SEE ALSO
Storm face Broncos in NRL final
23 Sep 06 |  International
Prop Webcke announces retirement
26 Apr 06 |  International
Quins sign Hill to replace Dorn
15 Aug 06 |  Harlequins


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