By Stephen Gallagher
Grand Final – Sydney Roosters V Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – Sunday, ANZ Stadium. 19.15 local time, 22.15NZT.
LAST WEEK: An absolute blowout, with a white hot win over Newcastle 40-14
A massive come from behind win over the Rabbitohs, 30-20 to the Sea Eagles.
THIS WEEK: It’s the Minor Premiers in the biggest game of the year. The best team over 29 weeks, with one week to go until glory. Last week the Roosters were simply incredible. The question is can they get any better? A white hot performance that showed just how incredible this team is. The biggest game in the career of all these players. How will they cope?
If the win last week wasn’t the greatest comeback in finals history, then it must be very close. The experience in this Manly outfit has got them here. A side that has played in four Grand Finals in the last seven years. This is no fluke. They may be favourites because of this. They know how to get the job done in the big one.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Well talk up individual players as much as you like, but the team environment for the Roosters has been phenomenal this year. Think about what went wrong for them last year, failing to make the eight by a long shot – and now here we are. Robinson has made the Roosters a very professionally run side. They have been dominant in all their performances and especially through this finals series, they’ve put an extra effort in to win the game when it’s in the balance. I don’t think much will come Grand Final day. Their expansive style of football has been flattering to some extent, but when it’s on – it is most definitely on. A team that knows how to score points from anywhere on he field, and defend when it counts. A hard nut team with a heart that will not stop ticking.
Manly-Warringah are the experienced battlers who keep on keeping on. A side that when look down and out, have put in more effort to come out of a sticky situation and show just how deep they can dig. Majority of this side have won a Premiership, so they know just how much effort it takes to get there, and then again to win it. The Sea Eagles are a hard knock team. They can never be counted out of the match and it showed last week. I expect them to deliver a stand up performance. They will be ready. A hard schedule through the finals but they will be ready, don’t you worry.
THE BATTLE OF: Halves of Glory. Origin pair Mitchell Pearce has flourished with support from James Maloney this season. They have put teams to the sword on plenty of occasions and come up winners. Maloney brings the best football out of Pearce, who has had his fair share of criticism over his 150+ game career. A relaxed, fun pairing. Always seem calm and three steps ahead mentally. A recipe for success.
Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans are Premiership winning halves from 2011. So they’ve been there, done that. Two young blokes who have punched well above their weight for since the beginning of their careers. Foran, a player who’s defensive stature is almost outweighs his attacking ability. Cherry-Evans is a young kid who finally got his first taste of Origin this season. Off the bench, and played like he’d been there for fifteen years. This guy is a true battler.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Daniel Mortimer. Off the bench this year he has found his place and has been emphatic in everything he’s done. A young guy who has really performed well in 2013.
George Rose. Everyone loves George. His last game as a Manly Sea Eagle. A fan favourite and has actually been very good for them this season. His barn storming runs are a great lift when things are going against Manly.
WHY SYDNEY WILL WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:
They’ve just been too good. They have performed week in, week out all season long with barely and glitches in their run. A team that have bonded to become a close brotherhood on the verge of greatness. The players who have stood up this year have upped their game tenfold from previous seasons. You can’t look past Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner who have been remarkable for the Roosters. Their contribution will go far to winning Sydney a premiership.
It’s not a Grand Final preview without mentioning Sonny Bill Williams. 2011 a Rugby World Cup winner. 2012 a Heavyweight Title Holder and Super 15 Rugby winner. What does 2013 hold for Sonny Bill? With a Minor Premiership already attributed to his name, can he hold his own and help his side win the NRL Grand Final? He’s certainly the most talked about player in the game, and has not failed to deliver. Sonny won’t disappoint come Sunday.
WHY MANLY-WARRINGAH WILL WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:
It’s simple. They’ve done it before, they can do it again. The experience in this team has absolutely delivered an incredible season thus far. With one win away from being crowned Premiers twice in three years, this side could toss up a real thriller. Jamie Lyon has been sensational once again this year for the club. A player with real heart and passion to win. His success has driven others around him to deliver the same. When it comes to big games, Manly know how to win.
TWO MANY STEWART’S:
Any team would love to have either Brett or Glenn Stewart. However, to have both in one team? Wowie! What a blessing. Sometimes the way Brett puts his body on the line with ball in hand, you’d think he’s Glenn. When Glenn puts a daft little grubber in goal to set up a try you’d think he was Brett. The combination these two have together is second-to-none. Guys that truly have a bond and can read each others game. A joy to watch.
We’ve had plenty of gaffe’s this season, so please, please, please let’s not have this game ruined by an officiating travesty.
It’s a real flip of the coin. Heads, you’ve got the Roosters who have headed the competition all year and have the opportunity to cap off a massive turn around from 2012. Tails, the Manly boys who can and will win tight games and games that will be huge. There’s nothing in it. Honestly.
The Roosters have that amazing style of footy to watch, and when it’s done right they could walk all over Manly.
Right side flair for the Sea Eagles however have a partnership to sink the Roosters.
I’m calling it right now. Sydney Roosters are your 2013 Premiers. A Grand Final for the ages. Sydney to win 22-14 and Sonny Bill Williams to win the Clive Churchill Medal.
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter