21 hours ago
NRL 2011 Grand Final Preview
And then there were two.
This decider represents a changing of the guard when it comes to the style of footy considered successful in the NRL. For so long, the ruck tactics and defensive dominance of teams like the Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra were winning premierships. The Manly Sea-Eagles and the New Zealand Warriors do it a little differently, they simply want to score tries and bash people in defence. Do not confuse this approach as not playing percentage and disciplined football, but patience and control are bywords of their football philosophy, rather than the be-all and end-all.
This match also represents the coming of age of two very special footballers. Make no mistake about Kieran Foran and his opposite number, James Maloney; they are the real superstars of their respective clubs and represent a return to glory of the dominant number 6. What a return this is. The two infant halfbacks in this match are playing out of their skin and with the world at their feet, but they'd be lost little children without their respective number 6's.
Manly have been the best in so many areas across the park this season and they bring that consistency to ANZ stadium on Sunday night as their biggest weapon. Rookie halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has been in the spotlight this week after a magnificent season. Not to mention a performance beyond belief for a man so young in the eagles' prelim final against the Broncos. As always, his forwards deserve plenty of credit and this is where Manly hold the edge. They aim-up during the opening exchanges but are fit enough to have plenty left in the tank to destroy you late, as proven in the Cowboys match in week 1 of the semis.
The underdogs from Auckland, however, bring a huge level of belief in their ability and confidence must be sky high in the Warriors camp after laying waste to the premiership dreams of some big names. Benji and the Tigers? Gone. Bellamy and the Storm? Bye bye. Now it's Manly's turn and if the