North Queensland will be rank outsiders as just the second team in the NRL era to make the grand final from eighth while no side has won the premiership from outside the top four.
You know when you play tennis or pool or golf with someone better and you lift to their level nearly as though you don't want to be embarrassed? Despite the evidence being clearly in the Storm's favour, you can expect a flurry of bets going on the Cowboys because everybody loves a fairy-tale. This is Cronk's last game for the club and they can back up their quality by riding the emotional roller-coaster.
Against the Storm, the Cowboys, once again, fell behind early, trailing 18-0 at the break.
One thing the Cowboys have in their favour is they have got two guys who are among the form players of the competition in Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo.
That's what the Cowboys will need to bring if they are to overcome Melbourne in Sunday's NRL grand final.
'It's been a rocky road the last couple of years, but I certainly couldn't be standing here without your support, ' Slater said through tears after accepting the Clive Churchill medal as the best player on the field.
Breakneck speed: Joshua Addo-Carr sprints away to score for the Storm. We've got so much respect for you as a football team.
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The Cowboys threatened just once in the first half, when Kyle Feldt caught a Cronk kick and ran 60m, breaking tackles left, right and centre, only for the half-time siren to sound.
First Will Chambers received a Cowboys bat-back from an attacking bomb near Melbourne's end and offloaded to a breakaway Josh Addo-Carr who streaked 70 metres to open the scoring.
But when Storm coach Craig Bellamy got his hands on him at the Storm, he turned him into a safe, reliable contributor, as he has done with so many rejected fish over the years.
The Cowboys started the second period strongly and reduced their deficit through Te Maire Martin, but the Storm - last year's runners-up - soon wrapped up the game through Dale Finucane and Curtis Scott.
As well as trying to keep Smith and Cronk quiet, the Cowboys' biggest challenge will be to win the battle in the middle. It was as good as it got.
The Storm have been making some uncharacteristic errors during the finals, but they will be looking to fix that on Sunday. It was 24-6 after 63 minutes and the Cowboys' dream was effectively over.
Why will the Storm win?
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