Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Auckland Vulcans
ANZ Stadium, Sunday, October 2
Referee: Jon Stone
Television: Channel Nine, WIN TV & NBN
Radio: 2GB Continuous Call Team
Online: Twitter updates courtesy of @NSWRL
Well folks, this is it, the big one, the one we have all been waiting for. And after a month of electric finals action we are left with the seasons top two teams in the Bulldogs and the Vulcans.
The Dogs are looking to hoist the trophy aloft for the third straight year while the Vulcans are appearing in their maiden Grand Final but given the circumstances surrounding themselves and the club in general this week, it would be highly unlikely that they will be lacking for any confidence.
The Vulcans finished the season in second place on the ladder with the best attack (810) and points differential (+283) while the Dogs claimed the Minor Premiership once again and also conceded the least amount of points by any side during the regular season (440). They say premierships are won on the back of defence so one must slightly lean towards the Dogs, but no club in recent memory has possessed such a potent attack as this Vulcans side has.
When trying to assess the Vulcans attack consider this: in the last four seasons only one other club has scored more than 800 points during the course of the regular season. That side was the Bulldogs of 2010 who scored 846 points, however that Canterbury side played 25 games in 2010 as opposed to the 23 games played by the Vulcans in 2011.
So given the Vulcans have averaged a touch over 35 points per outing in attack in 2011 it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they would’ve quite easily eclipsed the Dogs' haul of 2010 had they have played the extra two games.
Forgetting all of the statistics for a moment, let’s take a look at a few of the mouth-watering clashes that await us on Sunday.
Trent Cutler and Glen Fisiiahi looms as a battle of the consummate professional up against the youthful exuberance that translates right throughout this Vulcans side. Both backlines contain numerous players that can break open a match single-handedly, such as Sione Lousi and Pita Godinet for the Vulcans and Michael Lett and Ben Roberts for the Bulldogs.
Neither engine room lacks for grunt either with a large number of NRL quality forwards set to shake the foundations of ANZ Stadium.
The Vulcans' pack is largely made up of fresh faced youngsters like Gavet, Ta’ai and Robinson while the Dogs have a more settled balance with seasoned players like Michael Hodgson and Brad Morrin helping bring some experience to help offset young tyros like Martin Taupau, Tim Browne and Jake Foster.
These two sides clashed twice during the home and away season with both sides winning their respective home fixture. The Vulcans were far too strong at Mt Smart way back in Round Eight winning 50-24 while the Dogs won the most recent of the two clashes, getting up 39-28 at the Crest back in Round 24.
I think we can expect plenty of big hits, some scintillating attack and the match to be decided in the 80th minute, if not later... Can’t wait, bring it on!
Talking Point: Good things come in threes – seven is traditionally recognised as the luckiest number but for one of these sides, three may well be their new lucky number come full time on Sunday.
If the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs can prevail they will claim their third successive NSW Cup title after having won it in both 2010 and also in 2009 when they were amalgamated with the Bankstown City Bulls.
Meanwhile if the Vulcans can claim a maiden premiership, they will make the possibility of the Warriors unprecedented trifecta bid on Grand Final Day a very real possibility. Either way someone will be on the verge of creating some history.
Prediction: Loathe to make a selection here but going to tip the Vulcans in somewhat of an upset. Couldn’t have been more impressed with their victory against the Sharks last week while wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Dogs win over the Bears. Vulcans by 2.