It all started on the 10th of March with the Dragons and Tigers and will end about 8:45 Sunday night with either the Broncos or the Storm being the 2006 NRL Premiers. It has been an interesting season but the post mortem will come later. The immediate concern is who will win Sunday’s game.
But before I do that let’s get one thing clear. I am tired of the wailing from the sackcloth and ashes crowd, both in the NRL and AFL, bemoaning no local sides in the deciders. Get over it. There are 13 clubs in the NRL and 14 in the AFL who failed to make the grand final. You don’t hear their fans crying about the state of the game because their club didn’t make it. It should be all about the best two clubs at the end of the season. Both codes have expanded and this narrow-minded state based parochialism concerned with the “rights” of Sydney or Melbourne based clubs to be in the respective grand final is to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Except for State of Origin of course.
Now, let me tell you who is going to win…
The Melbourne Storm. They have been by far the best team all year. Of course that means nothing in the grand final as the 2001 decider showed. But as good as the Broncos were to come from behind to beat the Chokedogs the Storm were just so very impressive against the Dragons.
Phil Gould and Roy Masters have two pieces in today’s SMH on how they would coach the Bronocs and Storm. As Roy Masters notes, the Storm have so much variety around the rucks with Slater always a lurking danger. The Broncos would be wise to note when the Eels played the Storm, Hindmarsh shut Slater down around the rucks. Hindmarsh made sure that when Slater tried to go through the ruck he would end up in a Hindmarsh tackle, something that he also has done in State of Origin. If Brisbane can do the same it removes the danger from Slater exploding up the middle. However it does mean the ball will go out wide where the Storm have more than enough firepower to run riot.
Webcke will play a blinder in the first 20 minutes of his final game. However the packs are evenly matched so the battle will be between the Cronk, Lockyer and the outside backs.
The final score will be 26 points to 10 with the Storm prevailing after some quite open play at times.
Cross posted at Larvatus Prodeo.