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Soward's Power Rankings: Roosters finish on top

And then there were two. After almost seven months of the Telstra Premiership, 14 teams have fallen by the wayside, leaving the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm to fight out a heavyweight grand final. Check out NRL.com expert Jamie Soward's wrap-up in this week's final Power Rankings for 2018.

1. Sydney Roosters (last week: 1)

They haven't been the best team all year but the two main things that have put them on top in this finals series have been Cooper Cronk's kicking game and their defence. In big games, if things aren't working in attack for you, you know that you can turn to your defence and rely on it.

Having been in a successful defensive side that won the premiership, in those big moments on grand final day you know you can concede a penalty goal here and there, and you know you can absorb all that pressure because your defence keeps holding up.

You don't feel nervous because you know you've done it throughout the year and you have a lot of belief and confidence in the bloke next to you.

The Roosters have been very sound defensively throughout the year and trusted each other, regardless of the changes they've had to make. Paul Momirovski was playing his second NRL game on Saturday and didn't let anyone down because of the trust they've built throughout the year.

Sydney Roosters top 5 plays of the year

Joseph Manu has come a long way defensively. He's had his issues in the past but he's been able to hold that centre spot down. Teams come down and attack their line and come away with nothing, and then Cronk goes down and rolls it in or they score a try. What they do in defence pretty much makes it worth 12 points every time they score a try. I think the Roosters will win a tight one on Sunday.

2. Melbourne Storm (2)

They started the year at No.1 and we gave them the best chance in the Power Rankings throughout the year, and I think we were on the money, knowing they were the best chance to go back-to-back since the Broncos did it in '92 and '93.

Perhaps the most amazing part of what they've achieved this year is the fact they've been able to do it without a halfback. Having Cameron Smith and Billy Slater touch the ball more has been absolute genius stuff from Craig Bellamy and the Melbourne coaching staff. Bellamy lets them run the middle third while Cam Munster and whoever plays halfback locks in their edge.

Melbourne Storm top 5 plays of the year

They've gotten the best out of fringe players and turned them into really good players, and their outside backs are up there with the best finishers. They are a truly complete team, and when I sat down and did this at the start of the year the curse of the back-to-back kept popping up, but I stayed true to what I'd done in the off-season in terms of research and I think we've been pretty close to the mark.

Melbourne have been the most consistent team all year. They started slow but they rescued it back a lot quicker than other premiers have done in the past.

 

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