Melbourne Storm 34 North Queensland Cowboys 6
The coronation is complete.
Melbourne capped a near perfect season - and Cooper Cronk an incredible Storm career with a clinical 34-6 win in the NRL grand final tonight.
Though the Cowboys produced a typically brave performance, which has come to epitomise their season, Melbourne were just too good.
The men in purple seemed like superman - bigger, stronger, faster and smarter.
Cameron Smith produced a virtuoso display, while Cronk's 323rd and last match for the club was a typically polished display. Billy Slater scored a try, and had a hand in three others.
The Storm had plenty of chances - right from when Jesse Bromwich found open pastures in the third minute but ignored his support runners - and only strong Cowboys defence restricted further damage to the scoreboard.
The result, and the performance, crowns the legacy of the so-called big three. For all their amazing achievements for the Storm, Queensland and the Kangaroos, Smith, Cronk and Slater only had one NRL ring before last night.
Two grand final wins were scrubbed out due to the salary cap rort, they were defeated twice at the 'big dance' (2006 and 2016) and had also lost several preliminary finals over the years.
The Cowboys, who were only the third team since 1998 to make the grand final from eighth place, were seeking one more chapter to cap off a remarkable run.
They were faced with more adversity early last night, losing back rower Shaun Fensom in the 3rd minute after an ugly collision with teammate Ethan Lowe. Play was stopped for almost 10 minutes before Fensom was stretchered with a broken leg.
The minor premiers opened the scoring in the 20th minute, through one of the most likely routes. Winger Josh Addo-Carr, who achieved 21 tries and 25 line breaks this season, scorched away from 70 metres after being put in the clear by Will Chambers following a Cowboys bomb.
If that was a dagger blow - as the Cowboys had been hot on attack - there was a further setback for the Townsville club eight minutes later.
A textbook Storm right edge move, one seen so many times over the last decade, produced their second try to Felise Kaufisi.
It wasn't a surprise, as Slater wrapped around Cronk to put Kaufusi through a yawning gap, but the near perfect execution is impossible to stop.
A few minutes before halftime an Antonio Winterstein error gave the Storm another opportunity, and Slater crossed from an almost identical move.
As the Talking Heads anthem "Road to Nowhere" blared out of the stadium sound system, it certainly felt that way for the Cowboys.
They had travelled more than almost 15,000 kilometres during the course of the finals, but looked like they were all out of petrol.
Te Maire Martin reduced the deficit in the 48th minute, stepping his way through from 10 metres out, following four consecutive Cowboys penalties. That gave their supporters some brief hope, but tries to Dale Finucane and Curtis Scott killed the game, before Addo-Carr added his second following a Slater break and a 25m Tohu Harris pass.
Storm 34 (J Addo-Carr 2, F Kaufusi, B Slater, D Finucane, C Scott tries, C Smith 5 goals)
Cowboys 6 (T Martin try; E Lowe goal)