Manly didn't bother opening the door to grand final victory- they kicked it down Greg Prichard | October 6, 2008 http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/how-to-mend-a-broken-heart-/2008/10/05/1223145175078.html WHAT a difference a year makes. Manly didn't bother opening the door to grand final victory - they kicked it down and then trampled all over those Melbourne players who stood on the other side. It was a performance that began with a gradual build-up, and ended in frightening dominance. It was a credit to a group of players who chose to learn a lesson from their heartbreak a year earlier. The victory had the stamp of coach Des Hasler, who does not chase publicity but spends an enormous amount of time and energy getting the best from his players. Hasler was relentless when he played, and so was his team last night. Well before the first try was scored, the indications were that Manly were going to score the opener. The differences between the two teams had become clear. Apart from that one moment when Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart was uneasy under a Greg Inglis torpedo bomb that moved all over the place and eventually landed behind him, Manly had established superiority. The Sea Eagles were kicking to a well-conceived plan. Storm fullback Billy Slater loves to collect the ball in the middle of the field and make a curving run to the right, eventually straightening to try to find his way between two defenders using sheer speed, but Manly halfback Matt Orford and five-eighth Jamie Lyon kept kicking to Slater's right, forcing him to run straight. It didn't seem to matter if Slater received the ball on the full - Manly defenders, usually cornering him with a triangle approach, still ate him up. Their chase was just too good, and Melbourne's defence wasn't putting any real pressure on the kickers. So Slater was at least one ace Melbourne couldn't pull from the pack. Orford ran the show very professionally for the Sea Eagles, but the same couldn't be said for Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk. Manly's plans to drive him to distraction with a running commentary on his game - predicting what he was going to do next and sending defenders that way - may have been a factor, but the fact Melbourne's forwards were getting run over by their opposites was no doubt the biggest reason for Cronk's ineffectiveness. Pretty soon, because of Manly's outstanding defence, the Storm were having to bomb from too far out. Manly winger David "Wolfman" Williams easily ran one back 30 metres because there were hardly any chasers. Melbourne offered one brief spark in the first 20 minutes when giant centre Israel Folau threatened down the right, but that was as good as it got for the Storm before Manly converted their control of the game into tries. First, the Storm went soft on their own line, letting Manly hooker Matt Ballin run an angle from dummy-half from two metres out to score. Then they didn't react well enough to a quick spread to the left by the Sea Eagles, and winger Michael Robertson crossed in the corner. It was still only 8-0 at half-time, but it may as well have been 20-0. Melbourne were gone. Apart from second-rower Michael Crocker, who had a red-hot go, the Storm looked like they knew it wasn't going to be their night in the first half. All the second half did was prove them right. Robertson's second try, seven minutes after the interval, broke Melbourne's back. From then on it was party time and everything the Sea Eagles touched turned to gold. Of course, Steve "Beaver" Menzies was meant to get his slice of the cake. The Manly veteran came back on with nine minutes to go and the crowd willing him to score a try - and he obliged. Manly then went on to become the biggest winners in grand final history. They weren't to be denied. It was something to see, from a fantastic team that had learned its grand final lesson the hard way.