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Melb wins NRL title amid biting charge

Billy Slater might have been once bitten but he wasn't twice shy.
Melb wins NRL title amid biting charge
by NRL

(Eds: updates with quotes, detail)

By Doug Conway, AAP Senior Correspondent

SYDNEY, Sept 30 AAP - Billy Slater might have been once bitten but he wasn't twice shy.

The star fullback spearheaded Melbourne Storm's NRL grand final victory amid an allegation he was bitten by Bulldogs English import James Graham during a wild melee in the first half.

It was Slater, whose ear was visibly bleeding, who came back to bite the Dogs with a try minutes later that put Melbourne ahead for good and on their way to a gritty 14-4 victory.

The triumph for coach Craig Bellamy's team completed the Storm's resurrection from the shame, humiliation and punishment of Australian football's biggest salary cap scandal.

It also capped a topsy-turvy football weekend when Sydney's Swans flew to Melbourne to claim AFL's biggest prize and Melbourne's Storm journeyed to Sydney to take rugby league's equivalent.

Storm's three tries to one victory, with every point scored in the first half, came in front of an almost 83,000 crowd at ANZ Stadium that included Italian soccer great and A-League import Alessandro Del Piero.

This time the Storm players can keep their trophy, their money and their premiership rings with no argument.

They were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 titles because of salary cap cheating but now they have a "clean" one to add to the club's first in 1999.

Players like Slater, Cooper Cronk and captain Cameron Smith are now in the unique position of enjoying the euphoria of a third "victory" - a sort of deja vu all over again, but for the very first time.

Smith said the biting allegation was a matter for the authorities and was "out of our heads. It's gone. It doesn't concern us. We've just won a premiership." Canterbury's leadership refused to comment.

Smith said the aftermath of the salary cap row was an "extremely tough period" but Sunday's victory had nothing to do with proving a point.

Melbourne foiled Canterbury coach Des Hasler's bid to make history as the first coach to win successive premierships with two different teams, following his success with Manly last year.

Whether Bulldog or Sea dog, hot dog or "dirty dog", as Manly fans branded him after he jumped ship, Hasler has been a professional underdog who until Sunday was top dog.

And with Graham on report, he now waits to find out if his kennel contains a mad dog.

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