The big event of the Rugby League season, the NRL Grand Final, will be played this Sunday Oct. 3 between the St George-Illawara Dragons and the Sydney City Roosters, at a sold out ANZ Stadium in Sydney in front of over 80,000 fans.
The Dragons have been the form team of 2010, winning the Minor Premiership, four points clear of the Penrith Panthers. In the finals the Dragons brushed aside Manly 28–nil in round one and narrowly defeated the Tigers 13–12 in the Preliminary Final.
The Roosters, although finishing sixth at the end of the regular season, have been the stand out team of the NRL finals with crushing wins over the Panthers 34–12 and Gold Coast Titans 32–6. In the first week of the play-offs they produced an epic, 100-minute golden point victory over the West Tigers.
The St George and Illawara clubs merged in 1999 and reached the grand final, losing to the Melbourne Storm through a controversial penalty try.
The Roosters have played in four grand finals this decade with a 30-8 win over the Warriors in 2002, 30-8. Last season the Roosters came last. A turnaround from wooden spooners to premiers in consecutive seasons has not happened since Western Suburbs Magpies achieved the feat in 1934.
In a contest within a contest, the final is a battle of coaching skills between the Roosters Brian Smith, and St George-Illawaras Wayne Bennett. Bennett has won six Grand Finals while Smith has taken three teams to the big event of the year but is yet to claim a title.Between them, two of the most experienced coaches in Rugby League History have coached around 1,100 games of first grade football.
Season statistics favour the Dragons in defence and Roosters in attack.
Wayne Bennett's men have the lowest missed tackle count (26 missed tackles per game). The Roosters however have an average of 34 per game.
The Dragons have conceded 54 tries at an average of just 2.08 per game, while the Roosters have let in almost double; 96 tries, or 3.56 per game.
The Roosters are the number one team for both line breaks and tackle busts, and have scored the second most tries this season, 4.2 per game.
Dragons players to watch are fullback Darius Boyd and wingers Jason Nightingale and Brett Morris. While the Roosters dangermen are Dally M player of the year, Todd Carney, and Kiwi’s, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Perrett.
Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) and will be preceded by the Toyota Cup Grand Final between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and NZ Warriors at 2 p.m. AEST.