In the most thrilling count in Dally M Medal history, Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk has defied late challenges from Daly Cherry-Evans, Johnathan Thurston and Todd Carney to win Rugby League’s highest individual honour for the first time in front of a star-studded audience at The Star, in Sydney.
Sharing the lead on 26 points at the end of the penultimate round of voting, Cronk watched on as Cherry-Evans and Thurston both polled two points in the final round to jump into a four-way tie for the lead.
With the luckless Carney, the 2010 Dally M Medal winner, stranded on 26 points after missing the final two matches through injury, the last chance to snatch the award fell to Cronk.
Like so many times during the season, Cronk rose to the occasion, claiming two points in the Storm’s enthralling final round golden-point win over the Titans after kicking the match-winning field goal.
Cronk, who was presented with the Dally M Medal by Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe, is the third Melbourne Storm player to win League’s highest individual honour, after Billy Slater in 2011 and Cameron Smith in 2006.
The Kangaroos and Maroons playmaker also received the Dally M Halfback of the Year prize in another memorable awards night for the Storm, with Smith also claiming multiple honours after being crowned Hooker of the Year, Captain of the Year and Representative Player of the Year.
For Carney and Thurston, there was the consolation of becoming the first players to share a positional award with the five-eighths both finishing on 26 points. Players who finish in the top three of voting automatically win their positional award.
Minor Premiers and Grand Finalists the Sydney Roosters were recognised for their memorable season with young guns Boyd Cordner (Second-Rower of the Year) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Winger of the Year) joining NRL rookie coach Trent Robinson (Coach of the Year) in winning their first Dally M positional awards, while James Maloney was presented with the top point-scorer award.
South Sydney superstar Greg Inglis received the Provan-Summons Medal as the best player in the game as voted by the fans, as well as being named Dally M Fullback of the Year for the first time.
Rabbitohs team-mate George Burgess was named the Peter Moore Rookie of the Year and, in a touching family moment, shared the stage with brothers Sam, Luke and Thomas to receive the Peter Frilingos Headline Moment of the Year from The Daily Telegraph.
The award was presented in honour of their historic appearance against Wests Tigers in which they became the first quartet of brothers in more than 100 years to play alongside each other in Australia's top-flight league competition.
The full list of Dally M Award winners is:
Dally M Medal: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
Provan-Summons Medal: Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Captain: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Fullback: Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Winger: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters)
Centre: Jamie Lyon (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Five-Eighth: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys) and Todd Carney (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Halfback: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
Lock: Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos)
Second Row: Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters)
Prop: Andrew Fifita (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Hooker: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Coach: Trent Robinson (Sydney Roosters)
Rep Player: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Rookie: George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Holden Cup Player of Year: Bryce Cartwright (Penrith Panthers)
Top Point-Scorer: James Maloney (Sydney Roosters)
Top Try-Scorer (shared): David Williams (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
James McManus (Newcastle Knights)
David Simmons (Penrith Panthers)
Peter Frilingos Headline Moment: The four Burgess brothers (Sam, Luke, Thomas and George) playing together for the first time for South Sydney v Wests Tigers
The 2013 Dally M Medal judges were Ben Ikin, Greg Alexander and Gary Belcher (Fox Sports), Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Wally Lewis (Channel 9), Daryl Halligan (Sky NZ) and Dean Ritchie, Josh Massoud, Nick Walshaw, Paul Crawley, Paul Kent and Barry Toohey (The Daily Telegraph).
Dally M Medal Honour Roll
2013: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
2012: Ben Barba (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
2011: Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm)
2010: Todd Carney (Sydney Roosters)
2009: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels)
2008: Matt Orford (Manly Sea Eagles)
2007: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys)
2006: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
2005: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys)
2004: Danny Buderus (Newcastle Knights)
2003: Not awarded
2002: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
2001: Preston Campbell (Cronulla Sharks)
2000: Trent Barrett (St George Illawarra Dragons)
1999: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
1998: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
1997: Not awarded
1996: Allan Langer (Brisbane Broncos)
1995: Laurie Daley (Canberra Raiders)
1994: Cliff Lyons (Manly Sea Eagles)
1993: Ricky Stuart (Canberra Raiders)
1992: Gary Freeman (Eastern Suburbs Roosters)
1991: Michael Potter (St George Dragons)
1990: Cliff Lyons (Manly Sea Eagles)
1989: Gavin Miller (Cronulla Sharks)
1988: Gavin Miller (Cronulla Sharks)
1987: Peter Sterling (Parramatta Eels)
1986: Peter Sterling (Parramatta Eels)
1985: Greg Alexander (Penrith Panthers)
1984: Michael Potter (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
1983: Terry Lamb (Western Suburbs Magpies)
1982: Ray Price (Parramatta Eels)
1981: Steve Rogers (Cronulla Sharks)
1980: Robert Laurie (South Sydney Rabbitohs)