Cameron Smith was relieved to cling on for victory in the NRL Grand Final, admitting Melbourne Storm "did it the hard way" after surviving a late rally from the Penrith Panthers.

Melbourne appeared on course for a comfortable triumph at ANZ Stadium when they led 26-0 early in the second half, but ending up hanging on for a 26-20 win.

Penrith scored four tries to come charging back into a contest that saw their opponents finish with 11 men, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith both sent to the sin-bin in a dramatic conclusion.

However, Melbourne survived a desperation final play from the Panthers to prevail, securing the club's fourth premiership in the NRL era.

Smith was full of praise for Penrith, not just for their late rally but also a 2020 season that saw them win 17 games in a row heading into Sunday's clash, while also spoke of his pride for a Storm squad forced to leave Victoria due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We did it the hard way, 11 men in the end," Melbourne's captain, who scored one of his team's four tries, said in a post-game interview during which he refused to be drawn on whether he plans to prolong his career.

"Penrith were coming home with a wet sail and playing the footy that they've played all year, which has been terrific.

"As an opposition club and organisation, we've admired what Penrith have done. To win 17 in a row in this competition is a special effort, on top of what everyone has been through this year.

"If there was another couple of minutes on the clock, who knows what would have happened there. You've got to give credit to Penrith, they fought to the end.

"But I'm just proud of this football team, not just the ones that played tonight but the entire squad. We haven't been home for about five months and with the conditions that we've been under, it's a remarkable effort to be here tonight and get a victory."

A COVID-19 outbreak denied Melbourne home comforts, but Smith revealed overcoming adversity had created a bond within the group that will forever remain strong.

Justin Olam, Suliasi Vunivalu and Ryan Papenhuyzen also touched down for Craig Bellamy's side in the final, while their talismanic skipper booted 10 points.

"We've had some close-knit teams during my time with the club, but given the situation we've been here, pretty much living in each others' pockets for five months, it's something very different, something we've never experienced," Smith added.

"We grew as a unit this year and there are connections in this team now that we will have for the rest of our lives."

Cameron Smith played a starring role before Melbourne Storm survived a second-half fightback to beat Penrith Panthers 26-20 in a pulsating NRL Grand Final. 

Hooker Smith - potentially playing his final game - scored a try and also kicked 10 points to help Melbourne overcome the team who finished above them in the table.

Penrith had triumphed when the teams met in the regular season on their way to being crowned minor premiers, yet a first title since 2003 proved out of their reach as they were made to pay for costly errors at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday.

Melbourne capitalised in clinical fashion, opening up a commanding 22-0 lead at the break that, despite the Panthers trying to claw their way back in the closing stages, set up the victory.

Justin Olam was awarded a penalty try after the ball was kicked out of his grasp in the process of trying to ground it over the line, while the Panthers' poor discipline allowed Smith to kick his team into a double-digit advantage. 

After Suliasi Vunivalu intercepted a looping Nathan Cleary pass and raced clear to score a second try, Smith collected a loose ball and darted over from close range just prior to the interval. 

When man of the match Ryan Papenhuyzen broke free from inside Melbourne's own half to cross early in the second half, the game appeared to over as a contest.

However, having seen two tries chalked off in the first half, Penrith finally opened their account when Brian To'o finished in the corner, the score awarded despite suggestions of obstruction in the build-up. 

Stephen Crichton added another try and when Josh Mansour raced through on the Panthers' left less than four minutes later, a miraculous comeback suddenly seemed a serious possibility. 

Yet the deficit was too much with the clock against them and Melbourne held on, even with Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith finishing the game in the sin-bin.

Cleary barged through as the Storm's 11 men were breached again in the final minute, though it was a mere consolation effort as Craig Bellamy's side sealed a fourth premiership in the NRL era.

Craig Bellamy offered a cheeky response to Cameron Smith going beyond his career try total as Melbourne Storm wrapped up another top-two NRL finish with a 50-22 rout of Wests Tigers.

Smith scored one of nine Storm tries - the 47th of his career - to take him beyond Bellamy's haul from his playing days with Canberra Raiders, a fact he was keen to remind his Melbourne coach of when dotting down in the 71st minute.

Bellamy responded by flipping the bird back in the direction of his Storm players as they pointed up to their coach, who saw Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr cross for two tries apiece as Melbourne sealed a top-two finish for the fifth successive year.

"The only thing I can feel okay about is it took him 428 games to get there and I got mine in about 140 or something, 150," Bellamy said of Smith afterwards.

Cronulla Sharks had a night to forget as they suffered a 34-18 loss to Sydney Roosters, and lost star playmaker Shaun Johnson to a suspected Achilles injury.

The Sharks are already assured of a finals berth but the absence of Johnson - who has provided an NRL-best 22 try assists - would be a monumental blow.

Mitchell Aubusson marked becoming the Roosters' all-time leader in appearances by scoring a brace of tries on his 303rd outing for Sydney.

Gold Coast Titans' good form continued as they beat Manly Sea Eagles 42-24 for a fourth successive victory, though that game was also overshadowed by a shoulder injury to Tom Trbojevic.

The Manly fullback was only making his return from three months out with a hamstring injury and is now a doubt for the State of Origin series.

 

Brisbane Broncos head coach Anthony Seibold said he is interested in signing Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith.

Smith – the first player to reach 400 NRL games – is uncontracted beyond this season after extending his contract with the Storm last year.

The 37-year-old Australia great was born in Queensland but he has spent his entire career with the Storm since 2002, winning two NRL Grand Finals and as many Dally M Medals.

It remains to be seen whether Smith will continue playing next season but Seibold – who worked with the superstar as an assistant during his time at the Storm and Queensland Maroons – revealed the Broncos will consider pursuing the veteran.

"Of course, it is something we would consider but it is a really long bow. Would he add something to us? Could he add something to us? Of course he could," Seibold said on Wednesday.

"I worked with Smithy for five years at club level and rep level so I do have a really good working relationship with him. It is not something I have spoken to Cameron about or he has spoken to me about.

"A little bit of experience would be something to add to the group, going forward. I am not sure how long he wants to play for but Cameron would add not only experience but leadership and quality on and off the field to any organisation or any team… but I would assume that Cameron would finish his career at the Melbourne Storm."

However, Storm chairman Matt Tripp played down Brisbane's interest in Smith midweek as the Melbourne club look to retain the icon in some capacity.

"This is absolute news to me. We know nothing about that," Tripp told SEN Breakfast. "Cameron is contracted until the end of the year.

"At some point in the next month or so we will attempt to either renegotiate a contract for Cameron as a player or we will try and arrange something for him whereby he will remain committed and part of the Melbourne Storm in some capacity for hopefully many years to come."

Smith has made 11 appearances for the second-placed Storm this season, kicking 49 goals with a conversion rate of 89 per cent while recording nine try assists.

"First and foremost I would try and convince him to stay. He is so important to our club," Tripp said. "Whether that's in a playing capacity or whether that is being one of the coaches, sitting on our board, there are many options for Cameron in terms of what he may do.

"All of those options to my mind involve the Melbourne Storm and certainly not a Queensland club."

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys believes it is "premature" to suspend the NRL season.

Melbourne Storm star Cameron Smith called for the campaign to be suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the NRL planning to continue behind closed doors from round two.

But while V'landys accepted that was a possibility, he said the NRL would continue for now.

"That's one option we've looked at. We want that lever up in our armoury at the moment," he told Sky News on Monday.

"We may do that three, four weeks down the track, but I think it's probably premature at this stage to be doing it because we want to have everything available to us in this crisis.

"To pull the trigger now and in two weeks nothing's changed, we've got nowhere, but if in three or four weeks a player unfortunately catches the virus, then we can suspend it there and use that two weeks there.

"We don't want to lose that asset that we have at the moment that we can suspend the season for a period of weeks without affecting the whole game."

V'landys admitted the decision to continue the NRL season was a financial one as he again called for rugby league to be included in the Australian federal government's economic stimulus package.

"It is a financial reason," he said.

"We earn our money from broadcast. If we don't get that revenue from broadcast we can't pay the costs, we can't pay the players, we can't pay the administration, we can't pay any of our bills.

"There's an economic multiplier through the whole economy because there's the broadcast people, the cameramen, the caterers.

"We're not asking for a handout. What we're saying is include us in the economic stimulus. Rugby league provides billions of dollars to the economy, it'll lift the spirits of people around Australia.

"In any other crisis in history you need sport to lift the spirit of people and in rugby league that's what we want to do. We want to continue playing, lift the spirits of people, but at the same time take every precaution possible so that none of our players or officials contract the coronavirus."

The coronavirus pandemic is still raising questions across sport, even with the global calendar decimated by cancelled and postponed events.

Coronavirus has, according to official figures, caused around 6,500 deaths from approximately 170,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

As the pandemic continues, there are going to be some big decisions made in the world of sport over the coming week, with UEFA's 55 members set to come together – via video conference – on Tuesday.

The fate of this season's Champions League and Europa League will be up for debate, while Euro 2020 is also to be discussed.

Here is a look at the latest developments:

 

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting with UEFA, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina confirmed he will call for Euro 2020 to be postponed, in the hope that might allow the Serie A season to be finished in June.

This proposal will likely be backed by LaLiga boss Javier Tebas, who is convinced the top-flight season in Spain will be completed. Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc, meanwhile, has confirmed he has coronavirus.

It is not yet clear what will happen in the Premier League, with the teams set to reconvene for another meeting on Thursday and, after coming under criticism for stating that the season should be considered "null and void", West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady defended her comments.

"The Premier League and EFL are doing all we can to ensure the season is finished. Including suspending games, isolating players, and if required playing games behind closed doors and into the summer months," she wrote on Twitter.

"My point was safety of fans, players, staff come first and if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair and reasonable thing is to declare [the] season null and void."

In a newspaper column, Wayne Rooney backed the decision to postpone fixtures in England, but criticised the Premier League and EFL for taking so long to make the call.

More players have confirmed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first LaLiga player to be named as having the illness, with the club adding four more members of the first-team playing and coaching staff had also tested positive.

Valencia's former Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala confirmed later on Sunday that he was one of those with the virus.

In Serie A, Sampdoria's Omar Colley posted a video to his official Instagram account in which he refuted his club's claim that he too had received a positive test result.

Meanwhile, Manchester United's Paul Pogba joined the raft of sports stars pledging to support people during the crisis, as he launched a fundraiser to mark his 27th birthday.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain announced they had extended the suspension of all club operations until March 18.

In the United States, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert – the first NBA player to be diagnosed with coronavirus – provided a positive update on his recovery, while also stating: "I wish I would have took this thing more seriously and I hope everyone else will do so because we can do it together."

Not all sport has been postponed just yet, with rugby league in both Britain and Australia continuing for now.

In Super League, Castleford Tigers ran out winners over defending champions St Helens, though in the National Rugby League (NRL), Melbourne Storm's Cameron Smith called for the competition to be suspended.

Round two is set to go ahead next week, albeit behind closed doors, while New Zealand Warriors have elected to remain in Australia rather than return to Auckland, where they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Cameron Smith called for the NRL to suspend the competition on Sunday, allowing time to assess the impact of coronavirus rather than reacting "daily or hourly" to the ever-changing situation.

Smith was part of the Melbourne Storm team that recorded an 18-4 triumph over Manly Sea Eagles in the opening round of the 2020 campaign.

However, the former Australia captain feels continuing to play is not the best course of action in the midst of the pandemic, given the amount of travel involved for the teams.

"If we make a decision to suspend the comp for a couple of weeks then I think it just gives everyone an opportunity to actually sum up the situation a little bit better rather than being reactive daily or hourly," Smith said in quotes appearing on the NRL's website.

"We want to be playing rugby league. We'd love to be playing. But this is a serious thing that's happening at the moment.

"I'm really confident with the measures we're taking as a club, particularly from our CEO Dave Donaghy and our doctor to minimise the risk around our organisation and anyone getting the virus or being around large crowds.

"This is a view of our entire team. Given our team travels a lot. We're travelling virtually every second week of the competition so we're going to be exposed to airports, air travel and large crowds a lot.

"Our players aren't concerned about themselves, they're concerned about their families and making this issue which is already global, making it much bigger than what it is in Australia at the moment."

All round two fixtures are to be staged behind closed doors after the federal government declared a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people due to COVID-19.

Smith is willing to carry on playing in empty stadiums for now, with Melbourne due to face Cronulla Sharks next Saturday in Sydney.

"Going into round two, there's no crowds so we're not going to be around large crowds. So I'm comfortable with where things are at the moment," Smith said.

"If I wasn't comfortable I wouldn't have come up this weekend and the rest of the players wouldn't have come up either. But this thing changes all the time."

Cameron Smith said every birdie "meant that little bit more" after dedicating his victory at the Sony Open to the those affected by the bushfires in Australia.

Smith defeated Brendan Steele in a play-off in Hawaii after overturning a three-shot deficit to claim his first individual title on the PGA Tour, having won the Zurich Classic alongside Jonas Blixt in 2017.

The Australian's uncle saw his home destroyed by the fires terrorising the country and Smith pledged to donate $500 for every birdie and $1,000 for every eagle he made during the event in Honolulu.

"That [victory] has been one that I've wanted to tick off for a long time," Smith said. "I've been out here four or five years now, and to finally say that I have won an event by myself is quite good.

"It's been an Aussie week. Wade [Ormsby] won over in Asia, me winning here. I just hope that just brings a little bit of joy to some people that are going through some tough times.

"I just wanted to make birdies. It was tough the first three days to make birdies and I managed to scrape in a few. Every birdie putt I had just meant that little bit more.

"Rather than kind of wanting to make it, I almost felt like I had to make it. I've always been quite good at not giving up. I've never felt the need to kind of mentally check out in any way.

"I started bogey, triple-bogey [on Thursday] and then finished that day even par and progressed from there. It was a big fight all week basically."

Smith later tweeted to say $10,500 had been raised for the relief efforts in Australia.

Cameron Smith claimed his second PGA Tour title with a play-off victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.

The Australian overcame Brendan Steele in a play-off at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu for his first individual win on Tour.

Smith won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Jonas Blixt in 2017, but added a second title to his collection.

He two-putted for par at the 10th hole as Steele battled to a bogey to fall short in the play-off.

Smith carded a two-under 68 in the final round, making birdie at the last to get into the play-off as Steele struggled late.

The American – forced into a long wait at the last as players battled – had been two shots clear of Smith with two holes to play, but bogeyed the 17th on his way to a final-round 71.

Smith took his chance and recovered from a poor tee shot at the play-off hole to clinch his victory.

"I just had to hang in there. No one was playing good golf today it seemed like," he told the Golf Channel.

"The conditions got a lot easier at the end there, but just hung in there and what do you know?"

Smith added: "That's been one that I've wanted to tick off for a long time. I've been out here for four, five years now and to finally say that I've won an event by myself is quite good."

Webb Simpson (67) finished outright third at 10 under, a shot clear of Graeme McDowell (64), Ryan Palmer (68) and Kevin Kisner (69).

American golfer Brendan Steele earned a three-stroke advantage after the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Steele carded a six-under-par 64 to claim the outright lead at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on Saturday.

Three-time PGA Tour champion Steele and Australian Cameron Davis shared a one-shot cushion atop the leaderboard at the start of the penultimate round.

But a flawless back nine, which was capped by three consecutive birdies to close out the day, saw Steele surge ahead after Davis could only manage a third-round 71.

Steele is 12 under through 54 holes and three clear strokes of second-placed Australian Cameron Smith (66) heading into the final day.

Kevin Kisner (64) is a shot further back at eight under, while Webb Simpson (66), Collin Morikawa (68) and Ryan Palmer (68) are seven under.

Davis slumped to five under overall and a tie for 11th following a forgettable front nine that featured four bogeys in six holes.

Adam Scott claimed a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.

Former world number one and 2013 Masters champion Scott carded a three-under-par 69 to move top of the leaderboard on Saturday.

Scott, who almost helped the International team dethrone the United States at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne last week, had four birdies and a bogey on the penultimate day.

Winner of the co-sanction PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour event in 2013, Scott birdied the last for the outright lead through 54 holes at Royal Pines, where he is 10 under.

Fellow Australian Wade Ormsby is a shot off the pace following his third-round 70, while Nick Flanagan (63), Min Woo Lee (68), Michael Hendry (70) and Yuan Carl Yechun (73) are a stroke further back.

Two-time defending champion Cameron Smith, meanwhile, is five shots behind countryman Scott.

A team-mate of Scott's on the International team this year, Smith is bidding to join Dan Soutar with a third straight Australian PGA Championship triumph – a record that has stood since 1907.

However, Smith lost ground in his pursuit of a three-peat after posting an even-par 72 as he dropped five positions.

Cameron Smith revealed a nap and a swim, rather than practice, proved the solution to his first-day woes as he chases a third straight Australian PGA Championship triumph.

Smith is bidding to join Dan Soutar with a trio of titles in succession, a record that has stood since 1907.

The 2017 and 2018 champion was facing the prospect of missing the cut after Thursday's play, having carded a miserable 74.

Smith, who made his Presidents Cup debut on the losing International team last week, rejected the opportunity to spend some extra time on the range, though, preferring a more relaxed approach going into Friday.

The decision paid off as the equal-best round of the day – a seven-under 65 – moved him into a tie for seventh on five under.

"There wasn't really a discussion [about extra practice]," Smith said. "I just said [on Thursday], 'I'm too tired to do anything. We'll sort it tomorrow on the range'.

"I had a sleep yesterday afternoon. That was probably the best thing I could have done: had a sleep and then went for a swim down the beach.

"I just refreshed the mind a little bit and didn't do any practice or anything like that. I kind of thought it would be a good idea to kind of get away and forget about it.

"It was tough yesterday. It's just so draining last week [the Presidents Cup] and just so much more attention and stuff like that. It's amazing what a day can do in the game of golf."

However, Smith is still four shots behind leader Yuan Yechun, who matched the home favourite's 65 to build on an opening 70.

An incredible sub-60 round and the chance of beating Ross McGowan's course record of 63 had looked to be on the line for Yuan after playing the front nine in 30, before his form tailed away.

"It was going good at first and I got some fortunate breaks, I have to say that," Yuan said. "It was a great day, honestly. I played great, played smart, stuck to the plan.

"I was fortunate enough that I got a couple of really long putts that dropped through the round. Yeah, I made two little mistakes, but I really pulled myself together and kept it going."

The tournament has seen players turning out in yellow in tribute to the late Jarrod Lyle, just as his fellow professionals had following the Australian's death last year after a long battle with cancer.

The United States completed a record comeback to clinch an eighth consecutive Presidents Cup at the expense of the Internationals following a lopsided singles session.

No team had ever won the Presidents Cup after trailing at the start of the final round, with Tiger Woods' USA 10-8 adrift of the Internationals heading into the deciding day in Melbourne.

But the USA made history as they sensationally rallied past Ernie Els' Internationals in Sunday's singles for a 16-14 win at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

The Internationals, who were dreaming of a first Presidents Cup since 1998 having kept the USA at bay for three days, had to win the final three matches just to tie the 13th edition of the tournament in a tense finale.

However, the Internationals could only manage one as the USA collected eight points - a joint singles record - to defy the odds and see off the challenge. 

Woods wanted to lead from the front after teeing off for the USA in the opening match of 12 singles, and the record-breaking American did just that.

Having watched from the sidelines on Saturday, playing captain Woods produced another masterclass to blitz Abraham Ancer 3 and 2.

Woods, the youngest captain at 43, made it three wins from three at this year's event to surpass Phil Mickelson for most Presidents Cup match victories with 27 in total.

That set the tone for the USA as Dustin Johnson followed suit by collecting another point to level the Presidents Cup at 10-10 - the former world number one easing past Li Haotong 4 and 3.

Red continued to dominate the leaderboard as American villain Patrick Reed broke through for his first win of the tournament. Without his usual caddie following a fan altercation on Saturday, Reed steamrolled C.T. Pan 4 and 2 thanks to eight birdies.

A tough day for the Internationals saw Hideki Matsuyama squander a 4up lead to tie with Tony Finau, though they finally got on the board courtesy of Im Sung-jae, who took down U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland 4 and 3.

Cameron Smith put some wind into the Internationals' sails with a gritty 2 and 1 victory against star Justin Thomas, but victories from Patrick Cantlay (3 and 2 over Joaquin Niemann), Xander Schauffele (2 and 1 over Adam Scott) and Webb Simpson (2 and 1 over Byeong Hun An) proved too difficult to overcome.

Matt Kuchar went 1up on the 17th hole to guarantee a USA victory and spark wild celebrations among the team, Woods becoming a first-time winning captain.

The United States claimed their eighth consecutive Presidents Cup after becoming the first team to win the tournament when trailing at the start of the final day.

 

Defending champions the United States are charging towards an unprecedented Presidents Cup comeback, though the Internationals continue to dig deep in Melbourne. 

Down 10-8 prior to Sunday's deciding singles, the USA faced an uphill battle to claim an eighth consecutive title as no team had ever trailed after three sessions and won the Presidents Cup.

However, the USA are on track to sensationally retain their crown, with Tiger Woods' team up in six of the 12 matches and projected to triumph 15.5 - 14.5 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

First out against Abraham Ancer, Woods returned for the singles showdown after sitting out on Saturday and the 15-time major champion has led the way in more overcast conditions.

Woods - who can break the record for most matches won at the Presidents Cup - leads Ancer 3up through 15 holes.

Controversial American Patrick Reed - without his usual caddie following a fan altercation on Saturday - birdied five of his opening seven holes in a remarkable start to his day against C.T. Pan.

The USA's Tony Finau has also mounted a remarkable comeback, rallying from 4down through 10 to be level with Hideki Matsuyama after 14.

Following three consecutive losses, 2018 champion Reed is 2up, having been 6up after seven holes, while compatriot Dustin Johnson is 4up over Li Haotong.

The Internationals - eyeing a first title since 1998 - are ahead in three matches thanks to Louis Oosthuizen, Im Sung-jae and Joaquin Niemann.

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