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It's no secret the Raiders are underdogs heading into Sunday's Telstra Premiership grand final but what do the numbers tell us about where the game will be won? Stats crunched the data looking at things like the two clubs' previous meetings this year, strengths and weaknesses and grand final experience and while the numbers certainly favour the reigning premiers it's not all doom and gloom for the Green Machine.

Finals experience

With the Roosters having won it all last year and Canberra not having so much as reached a premiership decider since 1994, it's no surprise the Tricolours dominate the finals and grand final experience. 

They have 13 players backing up from last year's grand final, or 14 if Jake Friend plays. Including Friend there are five players surviving from 2013 and three from 2010, while Cooper Cronk has played in seven previous grand finals at Melbourne and Brett Morris one at the Dragons.

The Raiders have just the one player with grand final experience – Joey Leilua, for the Roosters against Morris's Dragons in 2010. That goes up to eight if you count John Bateman and Sia Soliola's Super League grand finals.

Total NRL finals experience tilts towards the Roosters by 190 caps to 80.

Experience tends to count in big games but it's not the be-all and end-all. The Sharks beat the Storm in 2016 with far less GF experience, so there is a recent precedent.

Roosters v Raiders - Grand FInal

Recent history

There is a stat floating around that the Raiders have lost their past four games against the Roosters in Sydney (by a combined 112-48) and have won just one of their past 17 against the Roosters in Sydney. Given the most recent of those games was back in 2015 and this Canberra side is radically different to those of even recent years, that figure seems of questionable value.

Of similarly dubious use is the stat that the Raiders haven't won a finals game in Sydney since 2010; in fact they've only played one final in Sydney (which they lost to Souths in 2012) in that time.

However the Roosters' recent form in finals is a major red flag for Ricky Stuart's men.

The Tricolours have won their past five finals games and conceded just five tries along the way. They've won 11 out of 16 finals since Trent Robinson took over. Plus they've beaten Canberra twice in two meetings this year with injury-reduced sides both times, which brings us to…

Roosters boosted by player returns

Canberra had the better of most of the stats in their tight previous meeting in round 21, though the Roosters still edged the 22-18 result. Back in round nine the Roosters won the stats and the score, 30-24.

One worrying factor for Canberra is the Roosters were significantly under-strength in both those games while Canberra were close to full strength.

In round nine, the Roosters ran out with something like their best team but lost almost their entire left edge in the first half. Boyd Cordner was concussed after 12 minutes and Dan Tupou after 35 while Latrell Mitchell went off with an apparent groin injury inside half an hour but returned for the final 20 minutes.

In round 21 the Roosters were minus Cordner and Siosiua Taukeiaho and lost hooker Sam Verrills at half-time.

Canberra weren't entirely unaffected; strike centre Joey Leilua missed both games while winger Jordan Rapana went off with a knee injury 51 minutes into the round nine match.

Canberra find a way past Bondi wall

Only one team put more points past the Roosters this year than the 42 Canberra tallied in two meetings.

Who scored more than 42? If you correctly guessed "Newcastle" you probably remember the Knights towelling up an under-strength Roosters back in round 11. (And if you didn't you're probably scratching your head right now).

But after Newcastle's two-game tally of 48, no-one put more points past the Bondi Wall than the Raiders. Counting finals the Storm still couldn't manage that many in three games.

There is a flipside to that coin though – the Roosters won both those games and scored a total of 52 points doing so, which is easily the most points Canberra conceded against a single opponent in the regular season (10 more than Manly's 42).

Raiders rake the Roosters

Much has been made of Canberra's penchant to exploit the recent update to the stripping rule. With 28 strips in 26 games they are going at just over one per game. The Roosters have fewer than anyone except the Cowboys (two) with just three for the season.

Four of Canberra's successful strips were against the Roosters, with only Souths (five) on the wrong end of more Raider strips this season.

Roosters players spoke this week about not letting the tactic put them off their game.

Head to head this year

Both contests this year were tight with the Tricolours winning each by one try. The net stats between the two sides show little advantage to either side, with Canberra having the better of most stats other than the final score in round 21.

Tedesco the danger man

Even a glance at the numbers from the two meetings this year makes it obvious Roosters fullback James Tedesco is the danger man, leading the way in a number of stats.

He has the most metres of any player (next best Josh Papalii 322), second-most busts (one behind Angus Crichton and one ahead of opposite man Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad), the most line breaks and more than double the try assists of any other player (Josh Hodgson and Luke Keary two apiece).

Without question, the Raiders will need to minimise Tedesco's influence to have a hope of breaking their premiership drought.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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