SUNDAY: NRL Grand Final – Sydney Roosters (2) V Canberra Raiders (4) – ANZ Stadium, 21.35NZT.
200 games. 7,883 points scored. 3,093,639 total attendance. 15,468 average attendance.
This is what it all boils down to, in the 2019 Telstra Premiership National Rugby League Season. One final game.
The Sydney Roosters are the reigning premiers, and in their 112th season, they’re gunning to be the first team in 27 years since the Brisbane Broncos of 1992 and 1993 to go back to back.
In their 38th season are the Canberra Raiders. It’s been a quarter of a century since their last taste of premiership success, which was a crushing 36-12 win over Canterbury.
There’s a lot to like about this NRL Grand Final match up. There’s history to be made, we’re just not sure yet what team is going to create it.
The regular season was tight between these two. The Roosters won 16 games, the Raiders 12. The Roosters beat the Raiders in both their meetings this year, with the largest margin of six points.
When it comes to the tale of the tape, the Roosters and Raiders lead quite a few individual and team statistics.
Latrell Mitchell, the Indigenous point scoring sensation has racked up an incredible 267 points this season. Not far behind sits Raiders stalwart Jarrod Croker on 224 points.
When it comes to clutch moments, Aidan Sezer loves them. He’s kicked four field goals this season (three in one game!).
You can’t deny just how good James Tedesco is. He leads the league in line breaks with 23, and tackle breaks with 161.
But if you kick the ball to Raiders hero Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, he’ll punish you. A whopping 1,697 kick return metres, and he does it with ease!
The Raiders are also the best side with one-on-one strips, leading comfortably. This is mainly because English rake Josh Hodgson is an absolute master in this area. He’s made over 15 one-on-one strips this year.
Sydney Roosters have turned it on in 2019 in terms of tries. They’ve scores 116 themselves. That’s more than double than the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs scored this season.
They also have the most 40/20 kicks this year with 5. In a grand final, this can be such a back breaking tactic, but the Raiders can kick them too – with 4 this season.
I also saw this hopeful stat posted earlier this week by a staunch Canberra fan.
1989 – Finished 4th
2019 – Finished 4th
1989 – Beat Souths to make GF
2019 – Beat Souths to make GF
1989 – Tigers favourites in GF, Canberra given no hope
2019 – Roosters favourites in GF, Canberra given no hope
1989 – Tigers beaten Canberra twice in the season
2019 – Roosters beaten Canberra twice in the season.
That’s enough stat chat though, because whatever happens, there’s 80 minutes left to decide the 2019 Premiers.
The Roosters are so positive with ball in hand; they promote it wide willingly, and love to keep the play positive. Their backline is such a formidable force, and creates such strength for this side.
None of that is possible though without their mammoth forward pack. Stacked with representative players, and slick, mobile guys that make fast play the balls easy.
Canberra is so tough on defence. Time after time, they turn away the opposition in the red-zone. Look back to last week against South Sydney. For 79 minutes, Souths only managed one try, and were tackled 35 times in the 20 metre area.
That leads to confidence on attack. It’s almost as though they draw strength from tackling their hearts out, and that in turn gives them the fighting spirit on attack.
You’d have to think this Grand Final is going to be a tight one. I don’t think either team will change too much in terms of their style, but there will be something up their sleeves to roll out if things get too tight.
The Raiders are direct. In and around the ruck snipes Josh Hodgson, and he loves linking with his English team mates around the fringes to create havoc, and space for the wings.
Roosters are very good with second phase play, offloads are an integral part of their success, and so is their defence. They are always quick to meet teams from the play the ball.
Whether you want to see the Roosters go back-to-back, or the Raiders lift the trophy for the first time in 25 years, I think we can all appreciate that this Grand Final has a very special aura of greatness surrounding it.
I think the Roosters will score the first try. Think Victor Radley hanging off a James Tedesco half-break to score around the 20 minute mark.
A staunch Raiders side will do enough to get the win in a hard fought match that will be decided in the last ten minutes. 14-10.
John Bateman to pick the Clive Churchill Medal for best on ground.
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