PREVIEW: 2016 Grand Final Day
This Sunday sees the six top teams across three competitions go head-to-head for premiership glory.
NRL Grand Final
Sunday 2 October 2016
Melbourne Storm vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Kick off – 7:15pm
The Storm and Sharks will clash in the season’s final game at the Rabbitohs’ home ground of ANZ Stadium on Sunday night in what promises to be a fiery encounter.
The bad blood has been bubbling away all year between these two teams and will come to a head in the Grand Final.
Both sides have strong forward packs and electrifying backlines, so it will be the team that handles the pressure on the biggest stage for the entire 80 minutes that will come away as premiers.
If experience counts for anything, then the Storm should the win. With experienced winning-campaigners at Grand Final level such as Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk leading the charge, the Storm won’t be feeling the nerves that the likes of the young Sharks backline and even captain Paul Gallen will be feeling as he plays in his first NRL Grand Final in a career that has spanned a decade-and-a-half.
However, some say that the youthful exuberance that the Sharks have in bucket loads will carry them to victory, as it has in a majority of cases this year.
Wily hooker Michael Ennis will be playing in his final game of his career and will be looking to make amends for the disappointment he felt when he missed out on playing in the 2014 premiership decider for the Bulldogs against the eventual premiers, the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Interestingly, the Rabbitohs have played both of these sides only once this year. In round 22 the Rabbitohs fell to the Storm at AAMI Park by a field goal in golden point extra time, 15 points to 14. In round 24, the Rabbitohs defeated the Sharks 12-6 at ANZ Stadium, and remain the only of the other 15 teams that the Sharks have not beaten throughout 2016.
Key Match Up – The Captains
With both teams evenly matched in terms of talent, skill and toughness, the difference in this match could be the leadership of the captains.
Some experts have said that if Paul Gallen can lead his side to victory then he will be regarded at the greatest Shark of all time.
That is a mantle that Cameron Smith has already earned at his Club, the Storm, having played well in excess of 300 games and is already a multiple Grand Final winner.
Both of these men lead their States as captains, and have served as captain and vice-captain of the Kangaroos for an extended period.
Both are also the spiritual leaders of their respective groups of men.
He who can lead their men most effectively on Sunday is likely to be the man holding the trophy over his head at full time.
Intrust Super Championship
Sunday 2 October 2016
Illawarra Cutters vs Burleigh Bears
Kick off – 3:40pm
The two best State-based sides will do battle in the Intrust Super Championship match, with the Illawarra Cutters taking on the Burleigh Bears at ANZ Stadium.
Both sides finished second on the ladder in their respective State competitions, and both defeated the minor premiers in their State Grand Finals to reach the National Championship game on NRL Grand Final Day.
Illawarra will feature a number of familiar faces in their side including Adam Quinlan, Kurt Mann, Taane Milne, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Drew Hutchison, Josh McCrone, Tyrone McCarthy and Siliva Havili; whilst the Burleigh Bears will have players such as Kurtis Rowe, Sami Sauiluma, Cameron Cullen, Luke Page, Jamie Dowling and Lachlan Burr pulling on the Bears’ jersey.
The Intrust Super Championship has traditionally been won by the Queensland-based side, with the Northern Pride taking out the honours in 2014 and the Ipswich Jets taking the spoils in 2015.
Will Burleigh maintain the Queensland dominance or will Illawarra take the trophy back to the NSW south coast? We’ll find out on Sunday!
Holden Cup Grand Final
Sunday 2 October 2016
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters
Kick off – 1:35pm
Rabbitohs Members and supporters will be keeping a close eye on the Grand Final of the under 20s competition with one of the Club’s 2017 signings, Braidon Burns, taking to the field for the Panthers in the season finale.
Burns has been one of the shining lights for the mountain men in 2016, scoring 21 tries in 22 appearances and could be a key figure for Penrith in Sunday’s Grand Final.
The Panthers defeated the Cowboys 32-16 in their preliminary final and will be looking to score points again against a well-drilled Roosters outfit.
The Roosters had to fight hard for their Grand Final spot, coming from behind to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons 26-20 in last weekend’s preliminary final.
Will that tight game have taken some juice out of the Roosters, or will the ease of the Panthers victory not have them ready for the arm wrestle of a Grand Final? Well know at around 3:30pm on Sunday
Rabbitohs Members will be wishing Braidon Burns the best of luck in this Sunday’s Holden Cup Grand Final.