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Grand final winner: NRL.com experts have their say

There's only one match left in the 2018 Telstra Premiership so who's winning - the Roosters or the Storm?

The NRL.com experts have had their say with the majority predicting the Mebourne side will be successful in their attempt to become the first team in 25 years to win back-to-back titles.

The Roosters, who are sweating on Cooper Cronk's shoulder injury, are looking to win their first premiership since 2013.

Jamie Soward (Former Blues five-eighth)
Defensively the Roosters travel and I think James Tedesco is going to have a huge influence on the result. It really comes down to the whole Billy Slater judiciary situation and whether he plays. If both teams lose their most influential player, I think Slater's potentially a bigger loss for Melbourne than Cooper Cronk would be for the Roosters. But even if Slater plays, I lean slightly towards the Roosters.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter) 
Melbourne. If Cooper Cronk doesn't play, it weakens the Roosters outfit immensely. If he does play, the Storm will exploit their former halfback's injured shoulder better than any other team could. Plus Cameron Smith's influence will once again be massive on the game's biggest stage.

Craig Wing (former NSW & Australia star)
The Sydney Roosters will win by a field goal after Cooper Cronk makes a miraculous recovery, starts the game and plays 80 minutes.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 
Melbourne will win. Despite appearing shaky at various points through the year, the Storm have again demonstrated their professionalism, commitment and determination by making back-to-back grand finals. There have been whispers this may be Cameron Smith's last game and with Billy Slater also leaving the club at the end of the year, I have a feeling that the Storm will rise to the occasion. If any team can go back-to-back it's them off the back of performances from their stars like Cameron Munster, Slater (should he be cleared to play) and Smith.

Inside the NRL - Grand Final Preview

Hayley Byrnes (NRL.com reporter) 
Roosters: Trent Robinson has been patiently building his team's momentum throughout the year - he has never appeared flustered even though his new-look side took a few weeks to fire on all cylinders. It will be a close contest for 60 minutes but they will kick clear in the final stages.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter) 
I think the Storm might do this fairly comfortably. Cronk's injury is a huge blow whereas the Storm are really humming at the right time. It should be close for 60 minutes but a few late tries will put the Storm out to a 16-point win – even if Slater doesn't play.

Michael Chammas (NRL.com chief reporter) 
The Roosters have the strike power to win most of the key match-ups. Latrell Mitchell will be too strong for Will Chambers. James Tedesco is playing the best football of his career. And Luke Keary has been the unsung hero of the Roosters in 2018. The genius of Smith will keep the Storm in the contest but there's too much potency in the Roosters attack to deny a premiership.

Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter) 
Storm: For once and for all we can rid ourselves of the winning back-to-back grand finals in a united competition hoodoo! I can't go past Smith at hooker/first receiver organising far better than Cronk, who might not even be there.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor) 
The Roosters showed they have a premiership-winning defensive unit when they kept the Rabbitohs tryless last weekend and will only be stronger with the return of Mitchell and Dylan Napa.

Keary excited for Munster challenge

Scott Hazlewood (NRL.com reporter) 
The Storm will win thanks largely to their experience in having been in this position so often before when combined with the continued growth of Munster this season coupled with Cronk to be less than 100 per cent fit for the Roosters if he does suit up.

Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter) 
It's hard to go past the experience of the Storm – having been in the grand final the past two years means they know exactly how to prepare mentally and physically. Their dominant forwards will gain them good field position while their halves have no problem in creating opportunities for the outside backs, who will polish it off with some points.

Andrew Marmont (NRL.com reporter) 
The Storm's pack - Jesse Bromwich, Tim Glasby and Cameron Smith leading the way - have been consistent all year, and Cam Munster pulling the strings at five-eighth, they'll be too good against a weakened Roosters side.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter) 
If Cronk plays I give the Roosters every chance but without him it's Melbourne's to lose. With grand final experience across the board they should become the first team to go back-to-back in 24 years but the Roosters' resolute defence won't make it an easy tussle.

Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter) 
The Storm are the masters of the big occasion and there was a sense they had plenty more left in the tank after blowing Cronulla away in the first half last week. The best player in the game, Smith, combined with some Munster magic will prove the difference in a tight one. Melbourne by eight.

Cronk advice helped Croft comeback

Peter Jolly (NRL.com reporter) 
Melbourne are a very clinical team who knows how to get the job done, regardless of whether they have their big stars. They disposed of the Sharks in a canter and experience from those who have been there before will rub off on the Rookies. The Storm will grind it out for Slater, whether he plays or not.

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter) 
Forwards win grand finals and the names on the Melbourne interchange suggest the Storm pack will have the edge over their Roosters rivals, while Smith has played more big matches than anyone in the game's history.

Dylan Morris (NRL.com reporter) 
Smith is the best player in the grand final and he will lead the Storm to win in a tight contest, which will be split by Smith's ability to seemingly predict the future of an NRL game.

Katie Brown (NRL.com reporter)
I tipped the Storm to go back-to-back in round one and I truly believe they are capable. It'll be one hell of a grudge match against the Roosters, but Craig Bellamy's boys will get the job done.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter) 
Cronk's expected absence is the circuit breaker in what looks a particularly brutal defensive affair. He is the only man that can match Smith's game management in big games. Even if Slater is banned from his final game, Smith gives Melbourne the edge with Cronk out.

David Piepers (Big League editor)
The Roosters were superb defensively last week but unlike South Sydney, Melbourne are quite happy to play the grinding style that defence will force - and they're just as good at defending that way too. Even if, by some miracle, Cooper Cronk plays, the Storm know his game and his worth and will have strategies in place to shut him down. Storm by 8. 

 

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