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Broncos claim premiership

Published: 6:33AM Monday October 02, 2006 Source: AAP

The Brisbane Broncos proved themselves to be the dominant team of the NRL era when they ground down the Melbourne Storm to win their sixth Grand Final in 20 years.

The 15-8 victory at Telstra Stadium was a triumph for coach Wayne Bennett, who has been in charge for all six premiership wins and becomes the most successful grand final coach in rugby league history, passing Jack Gibson and Ken Kearney.

Bennett is renowned for his straight-faced acceptance of all football's ups and downs, but beamed happily as he walked a lap of honour with his team to accept the plaudits of thousands of Broncos fans who had travelled down from Queensland.

Among those walking with him were the Broncos' retiring warrior Shane Webcke, who had the perfect end to a 254-match career.

"It's absolutely unbelievable," Webcke said. "To finish my career like this is an honour and a privilege. I don't deserve this."

Joining the celebrations were captain Darren Lockyer, who had a typically brilliant game, and hooker Shaun Berrigan, who won the Clive Churchill Medal for the best player on the ground.

Both teams scored two tries in a match played at blinding pace in front of a crowd of 79,609.

Brisbane led 8-4 at half-time after a try by fullback Justin Hodges cancelled out Steve Turner's opening four-pointer for the Storm.

Brisbane's big match experience proved the difference in the second half after centre Matt King had levelled the scores with the Storm's second try nine minutes after half-time.

The Broncos came home stronger, with centre Brent Tate scoring the decisive try.

It completed a dismal weekend for the city of Melbourne, which did not have a team in Saturday's AFL Grand Final and had pinned its hopes on the rugby league team.

Instead, the Storm joined Manly in 1995 and Parramatta in 2001 as dominant minor premiers whle.

The Storm won a record 20 of the 24 regular season matches and finished eight points clear of the Bulldogs.

But it counted for nothing tonight.

There was a scare before kick-off when wind gusts hit a group of four army Red Beret parachutists as they were descending into the stadium.

One landed heavily on the field and was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis.

Another landed on the roof of the stadium and had to be rescued by security staff and a third landed safely outside the ground.