With the NRL Telstra Premiership 2018 Finalists found, it begins a week-long celebration of rugby league. A week to build-up towards the single biggest day on the calendar … Grand Final day.
September 30 will be a huge event on the rugby league calendar. One which organizers, stakeholders, fans and ….. only just confirmed after last nights results were, the two teams and players who will be in attendance.
After 25 rounds of football, several weeks of knockout rugby league, they will each now be relieved that the two teams are confirmed: Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters. Matched to ‘fight it out’ on Sunday, for the famed Provan-Summons trophy.
Then there were two.
— NRL (@NRL) September 23, 2018
After the results this weekend, the two remaining teams are the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters. So it will [again] be State versus State, mate vs mate.
Victoria v New South Wales ‘battle’ in 2018 Grand Final
Similar to the State of Origin, the NRL Telstra Premiership Finalists will revisit the inter-state rivalry. Not like last seasons match between the Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys, this season the battle is Victoria v NSW.
The 2017 winners Melbourne will represent the Victorian fans, while New South Wales fans will pin their hopes on the sole remaining Sydney side, the Roosters.
— NRL (@NRL) September 23, 2018
Winning on Friday night 22-6, the Melbourne Storm were able to outlast the Sharks. They matched many of the Sharks attributes, and their single-mindedness prevailed. And then on Saturday, a real battle saw the Sydney Roosters hold down the South Sydney Rabbitohs, 12-4. That was a true combative match, with the more stout defence withholding all of the attack thrown at them by the Rabbitohs.
This week, each of those winning teams will roll up their sleeves and focus on their task. To peak for one last match, scheduled to kick-off at 7.20pm (AUS), ANZ Stadium. Those players selected, for those who are fit, and for those who are ‘available for selection’.
Billy Slater Judiciary judgment due this week
In a crucial moment of the NRL preliminary final on Friday night, Billy Slater made a heroic last-gasp, try saving tackle. With the Cronulla Sharks hard on attack, it seemed like they would score in the corner – unless Slater was able to defend the line.
The above video shows how his attempted tackle did result in the try not being scored. However, his technique is now in question, with Slater put on report for his ‘no arms, shoulder tackle’. And it is this action that may see him penalized by the NRL.
After the grade one shoulder charge was confirmed by the NRL Match Review Committee, the Melbourne Storm almost immediately chose to defend Slater. The retiring Superstar had ended the game on the shoulders of his teammates; playing his final game in Storm colours, on AAMI Stadium Friday. But could it be his final game for 2018?
So while fellow players in Melbourne and in Sydney preparing for the biggest day of the season, Slater is in ‘limbo’. His head coach Craig Bellamy – unable to comment on the matter – is experienced enough to know to focus 100% on Grand Final. Both coaches certainly will, although Trent Robinson has very little finals experience, so that is one positive in Melbourne’s favour.
Storm v Roosters Grand Final
With the 2018 title on the line, motivation as much as player availability will count for much. The Sydney team will be motivated to return the title to New South Wales. Only the Cronulla win in 2016, has seen a Sydney team hold the trophy high on grand final day. Few fans will want to see the Provan-Symmonds Trophy leave the state yet again.
So having 13 fit players on the field is essential. And this puts the Roosters under pressure, with star 2018 signing Cooper Cronk carrying an injury. The former-Melbourne halfback has been a key player; like Slater, and the availability of each player will be crucial.
Possibly being without Slater, and with the weight of expectation hanging heavily on the three-time Premiers, some might say that with less pressure to bear, the Sydney Roosters have every opportunity. Plenty to gain, and with so much less to lose.
The NRL Telstra Premiership Finalists found, it one week for all the pundits, commentators and analysts to predict….who will win the 2018 NRL Grand Final?
“Main photo credit”
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