Grand final will go to the wire

Michael Hagan September 25, 2012, 9:41 am

The two best sides, two best rosters, two best playing styles and the two best coaches.

How the hell are we supposed to split Canterbury and Melbourne?

These two sides finished first and second after the regular season and have been the strongest and most consistent teams throughout the year.

Put simply, they deserve to be there.

I predicted Melbourne would meet Canterbury in last week's column.

Everyone says Melbourne will rely on their 'big three' - Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cam Smith - and why not?

They are three of the finest players in the game and among the best of the modern era.

Canterbury don't have three players of that class but don't let that scare you off tipping them.

Josh Reynolds and Kris Keating may not be the most dazzling halves in the game but, boy, they are in-form.

Reynolds has been a revelation while Keating finds himself in a grand final after starting the season in the NSW Cup.

I love watching the Bulldogs play rugby league.

They play with structure and discipline yet still throw the ball around and aren't afraid to try something from left-field. It is a lovely mix.

I can dead-set see this game going down to the final few minutes.

One pass, one dropped-ball, one penalty.

That is all it could take to decide this anticipated grand final.

Melbourne certainly have grand final experience. This will be their fifth decider in seven years - a remarkable achievement.

But Canterbury have experience too.

Josh Morris has played for NSW, as has Michael Ennis. Frank Pritchard, Sam Perrett, Krisnan Inu and Greg Eastwood have represented New Zealand, James Graham has played for Great Britain.

Ben Barba is a freak while Aiden Tolman and Inu have played in grand finals.

The Dogs won't be bullied or intimidated.

This will be a grind, a good old fashioned arm-wrestle. Each side will go set-for-set, tackle-for-tackle.

My heart says Canterbury but my head tips Melbourne.

Being an old Bulldog who played in successful grand finals in 1985 and 1988, I would love nothing more than a Canterbury win.

But I just can't tip against a side that looked so good against Manly and which boasts Slater, Smith and Cronk.
Melbourne is my tip ... but only just.



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2014 NRL Premiership Season

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