Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders – Sunday night – ANZ Stadium
- James Tedesco
- Daniel Tupou
- Latrell Mitchell
- Joseph Manu
- Brett Morris
- Luke Keary
- Cooper Cronk
- Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
- Sam Verrills
- Isaac Liu
- Boyd Cordner (c)
- Mitch Aubusson
- Victor Radley
- Angus Crichton
- Zane Tetevano
- Nat Butcher
- Siosiua Taukeiaho
- Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
- Nick Cotric
- Jarrod Croker (c)
- Joseph Leilua
- Jordan Rapana
- Jack Wighton
- Aidan Sezer
- Josh Papalii
- Josh Hodgson
- Iosia Soliola
- John Bateman
- Elliott Whitehead
- Joseph Tapine
- Bailey Simonnsen
- Emre Guler
- Corey Horsburgh
- Dunamis Lui
* note that team line-ups are subject to change and will be updated as soon as possible
The finals campaigns of the Roosters and the Raiders have much in common. Both were victorious in week one, put their boots up in week two, then won again in week three to be the teams left standing in the most important game of the year. Impressively the similarities don't end there, because by the luck of the draw our two finalists played and won against the same two teams to progress. The Rabbits lost to the Roosters in week one and the Raiders in week three, while the Storm lost to the Raiders in week one and the Roosters in week three.
This is noteworthy for a few reasons:
- No-one can accuse one team of having an easier path into the grand final (granted the Raiders did have to win away from home in week one).
- While they both got a week off, the teams they did play and beat are the other two top four teams for the season.
- For those of us in the business of trying to pick a winner, being able to compare two teams that have done similar things is handy reference material.
The reference material is a good read. Jumping off the page are the defensive performances by both teams this finals campaign. The Raiders conceded just 10 points in both games which is very good going against very good opponents. While impressive, the Chooks conceded just 6 points in both games. The old masters of the game will tell you defence wins premierships – it's certainly the case this year.
In attack the Roosters have scored more points with the ball this finals series (44 vs the Raiders 28). This isn't much of a surprise, as the Roosters have scored 100+ more points than the Raiders during the regular season, and they have a backline that could test the Harlem Globetrotters. The Raiders have plenty of firepower too, just a few less rockets than their opponent here.
These sides have already played twice this season, so it would be pretty silly of me to ignore that. In round 9 they met in Brisbane where the Roosters won 30-24, and in round 21 they met in Canberra where the Roosters won 22-18. Both games were competitive and high quality, but the Roosters won them both, and they won them both away from Sydney. In round 21 the team lists were pretty similar to our Grand Final teams. The Chooks scored 4 tries to 3, and the while the Raiders had their chances and closed the game out strongly, they couldn't get the win. No team in the NRL defend their line like the Chooks.
The other notable notable is the return of the big man on campus...Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. In a sport with no shortage of big men, his inclusion is impossible to ignore. I don't think he improves the Chooks defence a lot (if anything, his occasional discrepancies can give opponents a piggy back from time to time), but he does seem to help get the Roosters attack moving in the right direction. It's the speed of his carries and the ground he makes that gives this fabulous Roosters backline the head-start it needs to shine.
It's been an extraordinarly long time since the Raiders won a premiership. It's been an even longer time since we had back-to-back premiers. To the neutral observer the Raiders are the feel-good story of the season, but both stories are good in their way. Cronk can finish his career with another premiership. He can't be more herculean than last season (at least you hope he doesn't have to be), but he's a good egg. Sometimes nice guys finish first.
Verdict – Roosters 20 to defeat the Raiders 14
First try scorer – Joseph Manu
Clive Churchill Medalist – Boyd Cordnor
Result – Roosters 14 defeated Raiders 8
First try scorer – Sam Verrills
Clive Churchill Medalist – Jack Wighton
Wally Lewis - grand final selection (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- ROOSTERS vs Raiders