First cab off the rank on Grand Final day sees the all-conquering St George-Illawarra Dragons meet the Parramatta Eels in what shapes as an interesting contest. There are a few little nostalgic twists in this one?
Much like last year?s Roosters team, the Dragons have been unstoppable all season and rank as one of the shortest favourites in the competition?s history. But as we learned in 2004, that counts for nought on the big day.
Cronulla, unsung and with nothing to lose, threw everything they had at the Roosters in last year?s decider and nearly jagged the upset of the century.
What will happen this year? Plenty will be determined by the mindset of these two teams. The Dragons certainly have the firepower to beat the Eels but previous results can sometimes be deceptive.
In round 24 the Dragons blew Parra off the park 64-0, but the Eels were without eight regulars in their line-up. Perhaps a truer indication of the two teams is in fact the round 18 appointment where Saints scraped home 32-30.
If the Eels are willing to throw caution to the wind and not die wondering they will cause a real headache for the minor premiers. They have some creative halves in Blake Green and Chris Law and some exciting outside backs. In the history department - Kurt Sorenson, son of former Cronulla and Easts player of the same name, Tim Wynn of Peter Wynn fame and then there?s Ben Farrar, son of Andrew.
But it is hard to look past the Dragons. They have been on the front foot all season long with the Morris brothers (again, kids of former first grader Steve), Tom Hewitt, Josh Lewis, Jamie Keith, George Ndaira, Lee Te Maari and Tom Haberecht have been so damaging and clinical in their dispatching of teams this year that it would seem the only thing stopping them from winning is themselves.
The teams are as follows:
St George Illawarra v Parramatta, 2.00pm
DRAGONS: Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Beau Ryan, Daryl Millard, Tom Hewitt, Josh Lewis, Jamie Keith (c), Jamie Dunning, George Ndaira, Chris Houston, Lee Te Maari, Tom Haberecht, Jason Klimis. Interchange: Dan Hunt, Jhi Tanner, Brian West, Shannon Stitt, Jason Nightingale, Sean Ferguson, Charlie Leaeno, Danny Wicks, James Grehan, Brad Davidson.
EELS:Michael Basan, Krisnan Inu, Ben Farrar, Thomas MacGougan, Simon Micallef, Blake Green, Chris Law, Weller Hauraki, Matt Keating, Craig Heslop, Valu Nasio, David Williams, Kurt Sorensen. Interchange: Scott Jones, Tim Wynn, Broderick Wright, Justin Wood, Jonathan Tavinor, Simon Greaves, David Cahalane.
Referee: Jason RobinsonLike