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The Melbourne Storm celebrate winning the 2017 grand final.

In the first of a series of features on the grand finals in the NRL era, Andrew Marmont looks back at last year's decider in which the Melbourne Storm underlined their air of invincibility with a dominant display to give North Queensland's fairytale finals run a nightmare ending.

Looking back on the 2017 grand final, there was a sense of inevitability about the outcome leading into the match.

Runaway minor premiers Melbourne had brushed aside all challengers to arrive at ANZ Stadium as odds-on favourites while the Cowboys had limped into eighth spot before producing three stunning upsets to make the big dance despite the absence of injured co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.

And the Storm capped off a remarkable year with a 34-6 demolition of North Queensland in the grand final.

It was the Craig Bellamy-coached side's tenth consecutive win that year. On their way, they claimed the minor premiership by several lengths (six points). The Stom were too clinical for the brave Cowboys, who simply ran out of puff after qualifying for the decider from eighth spot.

North Queensland were rocked after early after key forward Shaun Fensom broke his leg in the third minute after tangling with teammate Ethan Lowe.

They hung on for twenty minutes before Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr sprinted almost 80 metres against the run of play to score the first try.

Felise Kaufusi (28th minute and Billy Slater (38th minute) grabbed Melbourne's second and third tries, and with Cameron Smith on-song with the boot, were up 18-0 at the break.

The Cowboys' young five-eighth Te Maire Martin side-stepped his way for their first try just after half-time, but further tries to Dale Finucane (64th minute) and Curtis Scott (67th minute) proved the knockout blows.

2017 grand final - By the numbers

Best player: Billy Slater. A virtuoso, emotionally-charged performance, made sweeter after returning back from serious injuries only a year earlier. Withstood the Cowboys' early kicking pressure, then shone to set up a try and score one of his own.

The unsung hero: Dale Finucane. The steel in the middle of the pack. Notched up 34 tackles and grabbed the match-sealing try late in the second half. After three grand final losses, he finally got a premiership ring.

The play of the day: Josh Addo-Carr's try. The game was see-sawing but needed someone to break the game open. Enter the Storm winger. Terrific in his first grand final.

The what-if moment: Shaun Fensom's injury put a dent in the Cowboys' already tired legs, after playing each week of the finals. Couldn't recover from there.

The quote: Cooper Cronk (Storm): "There's no fairytales in rugby league, all there is working really hard and results go your way. But this is one hell of a football team to come back from the disappointment of last year and continually do the hard work and continually do the hard things that make you a good footy team."

Recollections of a champion: Felise Kaufusi (Storm): "It was tough. Josh Addo-Carr's try was difference. The game was going back and forth. But for him to run 60-70 metres and score was the breaking point (for us)."

Recollections of a runner-up: Lachlan Coote (Cowboys): "I thought we were playing some good footy at the start. One of our best defensive forwards broke his leg. I think it rattled a few blokes. After that, the momentum swung. Melbourne ran away with it."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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