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The Grand Final Preview - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sun, 30 Sep 2007 14:30:00 GMT

Blue skies with a touch of heat will greet Rugby League fans positioning themselves right around Sydney for the 2007 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final.

For the first time since 2004, team one takes on team two in the season decider when minor premiers Melbourne take on Manly-Warringah at 7:15pm tonight.

Some experts believe that the Storm had the shakes last weekend against Parramatta and have one more great game left in them. That remains to be seen but cannot be ruled out.

Manly have been going from strength to strength under Coach Des Hasler and have made significant strides in player recruitment while winning more games.

Last year Sydney cheered on the Storm against Brisbane. Who will they barrack for this year?

Is their enough love to go around for Manly or will the hatred of the eighties re-emerge and see New South Welshman once again root for the Victorians?

By 9:30pm tonight we will all know whether the NRL trophy will be heading back to Victoria for the first time since 1999 or if it will be going on holiday’s on Sydney’s luscious northern beaches.

Either way Rugby League will be the winner from this magnificent contest one way or the other.

Two other teams will also be looking to make title history.

Penrith – who won the Jersey Flegg comp last year under the tutelage of Brett Kenny - are looking to go back to back this year under Alex Melville.

Meanwhile in Premier League the eels are looking to take out their third consecutive premiership under a third different coach when they play North Sydney.

Plenty of history will be made on the most important day of the season and some of it no doubt will be for the right reasons and some of it for the wrong depending on who you’re cheering for.

Sunday September 30th, 2:05pm
Referee: Gerard Sutton
GRL Tip: Penrith

Under former Eels legend Brett Kenny the Panthers won the Jersey Flegg competition last season from fifth spot.

This year they’ll attempt to do it the traditional way after finishing first. Prior to the 2006 upset, the previous two titleholders (Roosters – 04 & Dragons –05) won the minor premiership.

Parramatta however have proven in both lower grades this year that knocking off teams above them is a task they relish with glee after eliminating long-time arch rivals Canterbury last weekend.

The Eels lost the Jersey Flegg Grand Final in 2005 and will be looking for some redemption of their own through the creative work of Trent Hodkinson in attack.

Yet by comparison the Panthers have made short work of their last two opponents to get to the final. They beat Souths Juniors 54-4 before dousing Canberra 46-6.

They have lots of points in them while the Eels on the other hand have been averaging 24.33 points in their last three games.

Both these teams are breeding some of the best juniors in the game right now and will be evenly matched out on the field particularly in the two backlines.

This will be a true test of skill, patience and emotion.

Both sides have scored 1-win over each other this year which means this game could go either way. It will be close and I see the winner taking it out in the back twenty.

Penrith: 1.Jarrod Summut, 2.Michael Mate, 3.Chris Ward, 4.Greg Waddell, 5.Justin Apthorpe 6.David Georgiou, 7.Nathan Pill 8.Brendan Hlad, 9.Masada Iosefa, 10.Charles Enosi, 11.Joseph Paulo, 12.Michael Leeds, 13.Jamie Theoharous. Interchange: 14.Sam McKendry, 15.Shane Blackett, 16.Shanan Wood 17.Wade Graham. 18. Chevvy Penehoe, 19.Brad Goodwin, 20.William Isa, 21.Mitchell Cahalane, 22.Lachlan Coote, 23.Daniel Penese, 24.Jared Cannon, 25.Sonny Tuigamala Coach: Alex Melville.

Parramatta: 1.Taputoa Rea, 2.Zac Russ, 3.Jonathan Wright, 4.Paul Ivan, 5.Josh Davis, 6.Justin Hunt, 7. Trent Hodkinson ©, 8.Broderick Wright, 9.Ray Nasso, 10.Tim Mannah, 11.Tim Robinson 12.TonyDavid Baumann, 13.Martin Lewis. Interchange: 14.Luke Motinelli, 15.Jason Baitieri, 16.Justin Wood, 17.Mase Lalu Togagae 18.Anthony Mitchell, 19. Fareni Moeffaau,20.Duan Poaneki, 21.Nathan Campbell, 22.Jay Heming, 23.Sarkis Daher, 24.Steve McPhee Coach: Craig Culnane.

Sunday September 30th, 3:55pm
Referee: Gerard Sutton
GRL Tip: Penrith

Whether their coached by Jason Taylor or RIP, the boys from Parramatta are not going to let go of their Premier League title without one hell of a fight.

North Sydney will certainly have their hands full when they attempt to stop the blue and gold from creating their greatest dynasty since the golden eighties.

Parramatta will bring enough experience to win the game from almost any situation presented before them while the Bears will need to start well having not played in a Grand Final since 1993.

The game will certainly be full of emotion amongst both teams.

For the Bears (South Sydney’s premier league side), they’ll look to send out fullback David Peachey on a high before the veteran NRL star hangs up the boot.

Eels halfback Blake Green – who has starred in the last two Grand Final wins – will be going after a third premiership ring before he heads to the Cronulla Sharks next season to fulfill his NRL dreams.

It’s been a supreme effort for the reigning premiers to get this far after finishing the regular season in seventh spot thanks to an end of season slump.

Sudden-death football provided them with the mental stimulus they needed and that will help them enjoy this game a bit more.

But the Bears will be fielding what virtually looks like a star studded NRL team through the likes of Peachey, Reece Simmonds, Daniel Irvine and Scott Geddes.

Both Wayne Lambkin (Norths) and RIP Taylor (Parramatta) are looking for a title in their first year in the job at their respective new clubs.

Fresh ideas and a great pool of talent at their disposal will pay off for one of these two men today.

Lambkin coached the Bulldogs last season and would’ve gone up against his former team had they not eliminated 32-28 at the hands of Parramatta in last weekend’s preliminary final.

This is a toss of the coin contest but the Eels I feel will be able to grind the game out and control it a bit more to the way they like to play their game.

Parramatta: 1.Joel Reddy, 2.Etu Uaisele, 3.Taulima Tautai, 4.Tony Williams, 5.Iwi Hauraki, 6.Kris Keating, 7.Blake Green, 8.Richard Fa’aoso, 9.Matt Keating, 10.Junior Paulo, 11. Weller Hauraki, 12.Todd Lowrie, 13.Brendan Oake. Interchange: 14.James Storer, 15.James Grehan, 16.Jeremy Latimore, 17.Aaron Wood. 18.Justin Horo Coach: Rip Taylor.

Norths: 1.David Peachey, 2.Reece Simmons, 3.Germain Paulson, 4.Yileen Gordon, 5.Troy Boston, 6.Beau Champion, 7.Joe Williams, 8.Scott Geddes, 9.Daniel Irvine, 10.Michael Greenfield, 11.Shannon McPherson, 12.Eddy Pettybourne, 13.Ben Lowe Interchange: 14. Jardine Bobongie, 15.Conrad Ta’akimoeaka 16.Ryan Verlinden, 17.Joe Falemaka. 18.Greg Nichols, 19.Eddie Paea, 22.Valu Nasio, 23.Isaac Gordon Coach: Wayne Lambkin

Sunday September 30th, 7:15pm
Referee: Tony Archer
GRL Tip: Melbourne

Defensively the Storm finished the season 100-points better then Sea Eagles. Melbourne conceded only 277-points while their Sydney opposition gave away 377.

Yet the Sea Eagles last weekend never looked like losing to the Cowboys while a few calls had they gone the other way could have cost the Storm a 3rd grand final appearance at the last minute.

Watch out for an aggravated Melbourne side to turn up the heat in the kitchen.

The ‘choking’ comments from former Manly lock Ben Kennedy will not sit down well and as Port Adelaide proved in the AFL Grand Final yesterday big words do not necessarily convert into a performance to be proud of.

Matt Orford Versus Cooper Cronk. You couldn’t ask for a better contest between two halfbacks vying for an Australian test jumper.

Both men have been consistent this season, have handled expectations well and can set up match winning plays in pressure games.

Reports are that Orford will still continue goal kicking duties despite being restricted by a hamstring problem during the week.

Yet Cronk can look at a video tape of last year’s Grand Final and pin-point what not to do again this season. Ox cannot and that I think will favour his successor.

I said last year after Brisbane surprised Melbourne that Craig Bellamy was overdue for a premiership and the indications are he’ll take out number 1 tonight.

As a former assistant to Wayne Bennett, he’s learn’t from the best and because of his original tactics, the other teams have had to play catch up over the past two seasons.

Des Hasler will win a title one day but unfortunately he’s up against a team almost drilled robotically. Melbourne learn from mistakes quickly and last year’s 15-8 loss to Brisbane was a major one.

Should the Storm win I will personally demand that a street parade be organized in both Sydney (possibly in Manly) and Melbourne to celebrate the national growth of our game.

1.Billy Slater, 2. Steve Turner, 3. Matt King, 4.Israel Folau, 5.Anthony Quinn, 6.Greg Inglis, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8.Ben Cross, 9. Cameron Smi - Read More, Here