The Melbourne Storm’s victory against the Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium was a marvellous spectacle during the coronavirus pandemic and league fans around the world have taken notice.
Cameron Smith’s men raced away to a 22-0 lead at half-time, before the Panthers staged a thrilling second half comeback - falling just short in a 26-20 defeat in front of 40,000 fans.
ANZ Stadium in Sydney was half-full, which is a strong reflection on how well the Federal and NSW Government has handled the coronavirus pandemic compared to many countries around the world.
The 40,000 fans vociferously cheered on their team in the rain and the spectacle caught the eye of league fans on the other side of the world.
The UK Super League recently announced the final would be moved away from Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, to KCOM Stadium in Hull.
The final would also take place in front of no fans.
Only last week, Leeds Rhinos defeated Salford Red Devils in the Challenge Cup at Wembley in front of an empty stadium.
Adrian Durham, from UK based radio station TalkSport, was quick to praise Australia’s efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fans-eye view @NRL Grand Final in Sydney right now. 40,000 fans in an 83,500 capacity stadium. See my previous tweet for article about protocols in place. Yet here zero fans in 90,000 capacity Wembley for Challenge Cup final last week? Miss the fans at games so much #LetFansIn https://t.co/ok1USC7Nlz
— Adrian Durham (@talkSPORTDrive) October 25, 2020
And he wasn’t alone with fans from around the world jumping on social media to express their awe at just how many people attended the grand final.
— Napper1984 (@Napper1984) October 25, 2020
Perfect example of how badly the UK has handled the Coronavirus pandemic.
Today’s #NRLGF being played in front of a sell out 40,000 crowd, last week’s Challenge Cup final played at an empty 90,000 seater Wembley. 😔
— David Jagger (@davejagger) October 25, 2020
Australia have 40,000 spectators watching tonight’s @NRL Grand Final whilst our sport is still behind closed doors. They’ve got something right which we have done so wrong..... https://t.co/Im3dWNwpL6
— Yvonne Moult (@weshpenguin) October 25, 2020
— The Sasquatch Scoop (@sasquatchscoop) October 25, 2020
40,000 allowed into the NRL grand final under covid restrictions and we weren’t allowed a single person to go to Wembley 😡😡😡😡.
— stephen jones (@stephen56237491) October 25, 2020
Just to emphasise the point, NRL Grand Final in Sydney tonight, 40,000 in attendance. That’s leadership for you! pic.twitter.com/ysCumaZN2x
— Stuart Coles (@StuartJDColes) October 25, 2020
40,000 in Sydney this morning watching the NRL Grand Final. How do we always get it so wrong?
— Alex Kerr (@Alex_Kerr9) October 25, 2020
Good to see a crowd at the NRL Grand Final. Must be at least 40,000 there.
— Chris Roderick (@croderick1982) October 25, 2020
Jealous of every single one of those 40,000 at the NRL grand final
— Ben Duke (@benduke17) October 25, 2020
Melbourne Storm claim historic victory
The Storm held off a spirited late fightback from Penrith to seal a 26-20 win in the decider at a rain-soaked ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday night.
Victory is the Storm's third NRL premiership in the last decade, in what could be legendary captain Smith's final game.
The win also sees Craig Bellamy, 61, become the oldest coach in NRL history to win a premiership.
It is his sixth during his time at the club, despite two being stripped for salary cap breaches in 2007 and 2009.
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