Added class will lift Roosters over Raiders

The Raiders will get their wish of an intense and physical grand final but that little bit of added class should be enough to get the Roosters home on Sunday night.

We've seen already this finals series how physical the Raiders can be and how good their defence is.

I get the feeling both teams will cancel each other out with the physicality side of things and it will come down to the game-breakers making something out of nothing.

That's why I think the Roosters will be hard to beat with the likes of Tedesco, Keary, Mitchell and Manu all capable of turning nothing into something.

In a tight game, all it takes is Tedesco popping up in supporting or an unconventional play or moment of brilliance for them to get you.

Canberra aren't going to try and out-strategise the Roosters. They are going to try and replicate what they did when they beat the Storm back in the first week of the finals when they bashed them out of the game.

They're going to have to live up to that old cliche and compete for the full 80. The longer the Raiders stay in it the better they'll get but if they miss the jump and give the Roosters a start it will be very hard to reel them back in.

If they have their noses in front late in the game and let up for one second the Roosters will find a way.

The good news for Canberra is they can go to another level compared to what we saw last week against Souths. The bad news is the Roosters can too.

Match: Roosters v Raiders

Grand Final -

Full Time
Roosters

Home Team

Roosters

Scored 14 points
Raiders

Away Team

Raiders

Scored 8 points

Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network

Canberra's game is centred around effort, energy and physicality which is tough to replicate week-in, week-out but now they're here they just need it for one more week.

The Roosters were in total control against Melbourne through the first half but the Storm muscled up in the second, went back to their forward power game and started going through the middle and get some momentum. The fact the Roosters were then able to wrestle that momentum back shows how hard they will be to beat.

Everyone in that Raiders team will need to be at their best. They can't afford to have even one or two players have an off night.

The Roosters know their own game inside out, they can hang in there for long periods when things are going against them.

They are happy to sit there and turn you away and then turn you away again and wait for you to make a mistake. When that happens back momentum flips in an instant and suddenly they go down your end and score.

We've seen a lot of teams break like that. The Roosters welcome you to their half and down to their try line but then you miss a pass or knock it on and before you know it they're up your end scoring a try.

The No.9s will be important for each team.

For the Roosters, it's such a hard call whether to bring Jake Friend in for Sam Verrills if he's fit. He's a leader, he brings confidence to the team and at his best he's such an influential player on field.

The question is do you run the risk of Friend being not quite right or not quite having the required match fitness? 

If he is fine it's an added bonus, but it would be hard with the number of games he's played this year to justify bringing him in.

Then again if he does miss out Verrills has shown he's capable of performing on the big stage. They wouldn't miss a beat.

For Canberra, Josh Hodgson is such a big player and consistently comes up with the big plays. It's all well and good for the Roosters to be aware he's going to rake the ball out but it's another thing to try and stop it.

He's a big key for them; he got hurt a few times in that last game and just kept pressing on. I doubt they could have won without him and I'm sure the Roosters will be sending plenty of traffic his way.

I'm really looking forward to the first 10-15 minutes of this game. The Roosters will look to start fast like last year's grand final, just come out all guns blazing and moving the Canberra forward pack around the field.

I'd love to see a full-on physical battle, a war of attrition. I don't know who the Raiders will target in the Roosters line but the Roosters will try and attack Croker's channel on the left, shift to that side then away then come back at him time and again.

They also might try and ruffle up Joey Leilua to see if he takes the bait. It will be an interesting battle on that side with Latrell.

I'm tipping it to be an arm wrestle for most of the game before the Roosters once again show they can soak up plenty of pressure, score against the run of play and skip away late.

Roosters by 8, and I'll go for Joey Manu to take out the Clive Churchill Medal.