2012 NRL Grand Final Match Preview
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm
ANZ Stadium, Sunday 5:15pm - Teams
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And so it comes to this. 1 v 2 on the ladder. Combined, these clubs have won 13 out of their last 14 matches. They've been the two best teams all year and they own the two best defensive records on the season. They are coached by the two most successful league mentors of the modern era. The Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs are your 2012 NRL Grand Finalists on Sunday afternoon at Homebush and what a beauty it promises to be.
Contrasting styles. It's been the hot topic all week and credit must go to Canterbury coach Des Hasler for using the skill of his forwards to such potential. Des has drilled his big men to play a style that opposes the grind and makes it difficult to wrestle. The Dogs don't send a solitary sacrificial settler at you, they send a line of ball players and hole runners and not just when they're in attacking position; but even when coming out of their own end. They've dominated opposition packs all year and scored plenty of tries from distance.
Melbourne's attack is just as lethal. They don't simply grind out points as they have done in the past via their discipline and defence. Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith can beat you with a game plan and are smart enough to play what they see on the field. Got a weakness? They'll find it either on video or in an instant, during the game. With a glut of possession, they destroyed the reigning premiers last week and the Rabbitohs a fortnight before. They are on a 7 match winning streak and average over 31 points in attack over that stretch. They are the favourites.
For the Bulldogs to win, they must overcome the experience of Smith, Cronk and Slater, who have proven themselves at the highest level. Canterbury does have an advantage in the forwards, but will need Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating and Ben Barba to handle the biggest occasion of their footballing lives. Cronk, especially, is the Bulldogs' biggest obstacle. You can bet his kicking game will leave Barba out of the flow of this match as much as possible. You can bet his defence will be first class and you can bet that he'll be playing with a very large chip on his shoulder.
This motivation will be the Storm