Peter Sterling: Analysing the 'playbooks' of the finalists

What you’ve seen is what you’ll get.<br><br>Whilst many refer to finals as a “new” competition, coaches do not produce a different play-book at this stage of the season.<br><br>In fact, what these teams have found to be successful in the past six weeks is what they’ll stick with. <br><br>On Friday night the Gold Coast host the Warriors at Skilled Park where the Titans have won eight of 12.<br><br>They have lost just one game from their last seven clashes and in that time halfback Scott Prince has made better decisions than any other player in the competition.<br><br>Making his job easier is the fact that his teammates give him plenty of options.<br><br>Preston Campbell often operates as a second-man runner which has led to tries for both Mat Rogers and Steve Michaels in recent weeks. Scott has also used Mark Minichiello flat in front of Preston as a variation. <br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=858&amp;fixtureid=50020102202&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=470">CLICK HERE to see Campbell take a wide ball from Prince to create space for Rogers on the inside.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=859&amp;fixtureid=50020102303&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=2615">CLICK HERE to see Campbell loop behind Prince to create an extra man and overlap to send Michaels over.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=858&amp;fixtureid=50020102202&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=1848">CLICK HERE to see Prince use Minichiello as a flat runner in front of Campbell.</a><br><br>The team has had great success with cross field kicks usually to the right but with grubbers to the left. Interchange Bodene Thompson has been the chief beneficiary with two try doubles, all from kicks.<br><br>They also have a clever dummy-half in Nathan Friend who will hit his first receivers until he senses an opportunity. Against the Cowboys a quick dart saw him scoot over from 10 metres out whilst the set move last week against the Tigers where he hit Ashley Harrison across the face of a decoy coming from open to blind was a beauty.<br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=859&amp;fixtureid=50020102303&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1890"><br>CLICK HERE to see Friend's ability to pick his dummy half darts to perfection.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102601&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=410">CLICK HERE to see Harrison score from beautiful variation of a set play against the Tigers.</a><br><br>The Warriors have won seven games in Australia this season, five more than last year.<br><br>They are a much more disciplined outfit who rely on their formidable forwards to get the ball over half-way with few passes. This allows their little men to come into their own. <br><br>It is a settled line-up with James Maloney, Brett Seymour, Lance Hohaia and Aaron Heremaia having established an effective combination. The return of Kevin Locke has also added speed to an already quick team. His kick return against the Eels to put Brent Tate over showed the danger of their counter-attack.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102603&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=1&amp;time=2065">CLICK HERE to see how dangerous Locke's kick returns can be.</a><br><br>On the back of their forwards powering down the middle the likes of Hohaia and Heremaia are incisively sharp through the ruck.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102501&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=517">CLICK HERE to see Hohaia cut through the Broncos and then chip over the top for one of the tries of the year.</a><br><br>Then there is the awesome weapon of Manu Vatuvei on the left flank. For a man who once had poor hands he is now superb in the air, has deceptive speed and is almost unstoppable from close range.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102501&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=517">CLICK HERE to seeVatuvei's skill under the high ball.</a><br><br>On Saturday evening the Tigers play their first final since claiming the crown in 2005.<br><br>They are a side that will push the pass, refuse to go into their shell and often ignore the percentage play. They also boast two attacking geniuses in Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah.<br><br>They are the catalyst for the vast majority of West’s points due to their instinct and vision.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>Marshall’s first try against Melbourne is a perfect example of the Tiger’s instinctive play whilst his third when combining with his skipper showed how effective they are at punishing teams from errors and open play.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102506&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=1&amp;time=782">CLICK HERE to see Marshall's freakish ability against the Storm.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102506&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=2310">CLICK HERE to see Marshall rack up his hat-trick against the Storm.</a><br><br>Farah’s service from dummy-half is unpredictable and intelligent and he invariably picks the best of his forward options. The most dangerous have proven to be Gareth Ellis and Andrew Fifita from close range.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=859&amp;fixtureid=50020102307&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=1078">CLICK HERE to see Farah choose the correct option against the Panthers.</a><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102506&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1306"><br>CLICK HERE to see how dangerous Fifita can be at close range.</a><br><br>Robbie is also very quick to take advantage of marker defence that is not set and his support players are well&nbsp; aware of the need to react immediately.<br><br>The Roosters will feel very much at home on the SFS and will be excited at their involvement after last year’s wooden spoon.<br><br>They too have their own dynamic duo in Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce who scheme no matter where they are on the field. Not many teams will attack via a backline movement from inside their own 10 as they did against Manly.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102507&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=2&amp;time=1720">CLICK HERE to see the Roosters attack from their own danger zone to send Perrett over against Manly.</a><br><br>Shaun Kenny-Dowall is having a ball outside them notching seven tries from his last four games and is showing enormous initiative of his own. Opening tries against the Sea Eagles and Cowboys the last fortnight kick-started his team’s scoring.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102604&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1793">CLICK HERE to see Kenny-Dowall open the scoring against the Cowboys.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102507&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=2569">CLICK HERE to see Kenny-Dowall score on the stroke of halftime against Manly after grubbering for himself.</a><br><br>He is also part of a set of outside backs that dummy-half run out of their own end better than anyone. <br><br>Later that night Penrith are at home at CUA against the Raiders where they have an imposing record of just three losses from 12.<br><br>After copping criticism for the amount of tries they weren't scoring from kicks the Panthers have amassed 25 in their last four appearances with just four coming off the boot.<br><br>Their edge attack has always looked particularly ominous and is now reaping plenty of rewards.<br><br>On the left Frank Pritchard and Michael Jennings are devastating runners with&nbsp; Frank’s hat-trick last week coming&nbsp; off the dummy-half,&nbsp; from one pass out and three passes wide.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102605&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=155">CLICK HERE to see the first of Pritchard's hat-trick agaisnt the Sharks.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102605&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1783">CLICK HERE to see the second of Pritchard's hat-trick against the Sharks.</a><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102605&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=1477"><br> CLICK HERE to see the third of Pritchard's hat-trick against the Sharks. </a><br><br>To the left Trent Waterhouse is also a big man capable of breaking the line. He had success last week in putting Brad Tighe over showing that he is more dangerous when thinking bust before off-loading.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102605&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1072">CLICK HERE to see Waterhouse slice through the Sharks.</a><br><br>With the expected return of both Luke Walsh and Lachlan Coote I’m expecting renewed success from kicks and - despite a move back to the wing - plenty of dummy-half bursts from Michael Gordon.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=857&amp;fixtureid=50020102102&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=2350">CLICK HERE to see 'Flash' Gordon scoot from dummy-half and rip through the Cowboys.</a><br><br>The Raiders have momentum and relish the underdog tag.<br><br>The secret to their surge has been rolling forwards, halves playing straight and a brilliant full-back.<br><br>Terry Campese has always been the key to the Raiders but he now enjoys a working relationship with his half-back. Terry is predominately the ball player and Josh McCrone a runner as their long range effort against the Cowboys illustrated.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102505&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=634">CLICK HERE to see Campese and McCrone combine in style.</a><br><br>Both men however are playing much more direct with the ball and that is causing real problems for defences.<br><br>Throw in Josh Dugan who takes pressure off with his incisive running and the Raiders' giant pack need only worry about getting field position.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102505&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1150">CLICK HERE to see Dugan's incisive running against a set defensive line.</a><br><br>Finally St George Illawarra round out the weekend looking to avoid last year’s straight sets defeat.<br><br>They have tinkered slightly with their approach but when things are working why deviate?<br><br>Everyone knows of their lethal left side but knowing and stopping are two different things. In fact in their last three matches that same formation and execution has seen Brett Morris score in the corner<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=860&amp;fixtureid=50020102406&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=283">CLICK HERE to see Morris cap off yet another left edge set play from the Dragons.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=861&amp;fixtureid=50020102504&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=300">CLICK HERE to see Morris score down the same channel but from a variation of the same play.</a><br><br>Instead of always going second man and wide there has been much more use of Ben Creagh as the flat, front runner. Souths found him too hot to handle on Sunday night and he’d have run through a brick wall in his blockbusting effort against the Knights.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102608&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1183">CLICK HERE to see Creagh burst through the Rabbitohs... for the third time.</a><br><br>With the return of Mark Gasnier there has also been more of an effort to hit to the right and that formation is coming along nicely and providing an attractive option.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102608&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=2&amp;time=1164">CLICK HERE to see the Dragons' right edge firing against Souths.</a><br><br>Manly limp into this one with most of their big guns injured or suspended. <br><br>They have also had plenty of success down their left side with Keiran Foran and Ben Farrar laying the foundation for tries in their last two encounters.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102607&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=366">CLICK HERE to see Matai on the charge from close range against the Dogs.</a><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=862&amp;fixtureid=50020102607&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1186"><br>CLICK HERE to see Farrar hold the pass and slice through the Dogs himself.</a><br><br>Unfortunately Steve Matai has been an active participant so in his absence they may look towards sending more ball towards Jamie Lyon.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=858&amp;fixtureid=50020102203&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=788">CLICK HERE to see why Jamie Lyon has become a go-to man for Manly.</a><br><br>Apart from playing to one of their few remaining strengths it may also force Tony Williams to have more carries of the football. If they can put him in sight of the try-line he is capable of causing even the Dragons' superb defence a huge problem.<br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=858&amp;fixtureid=50020102203&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1068"><br>CLICK HERE to see Williams treat Billy Slater like a speed-bump.</a><br>