This Sunday the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm will face off in the biggest game of the NRL season (with the exception of State of Origin). Easts finished first on the ladder due to a slightly better for and against, while Melbourne are the most experienced team in NRL history in terms of grand finals played.
If defence wins premierships then the Roosters have the edge, with the best defence in the NRL this year. They will also be full of confidence after holding South Sydney (the best attacking team) to two penalty goals last week, and comfortably holding off Cronulla the week before.
The Sydney Roosters will also be very confident if the match becomes a grind, as they have an excellent second half record. Over their last four matches they have let in just 12 points in the second half, and none in the final 20 minutes when matches typically open up. They have also not conceded a try in the last 20 minutes since round 20, 2 months ago.
The Storm, on the other hand, will be relying on experience to get them over the line. Their leaders Cameron Smith and Billy Slater are each in their 7th big dance, with the rest of the team containing just 3 grand final debutants. On the other hand, the Roosters will likely have just 9 grand final caps between them (16 if Cooper Cronk plays – he would be the most experienced player on the field, but also only has one working arm).
The Roosters do have plenty of big game experience, with James Tedesco, Boyd Cordner and Latrell Mitchell all starring for the NSW Blues this year, while Blake Ferguson and Dylan Napa have played Origin before, and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has played for New Zealand. If Cronk plays the Roosters will add his experience to their arsenal.
Both sides are great defensively as well as being loaded with attacking weapons, so the game should be both entertaining and close. If it lives up to its potential, the Roosters have the defence to get them over the line at the end – but that isn’t a confident prediction.