The NRL Grand final gets underway this Sunday night with a huge game between the Roosters and Raiders. Can the Raiders end a 25-year premiership drought or will the Roosters become the first team in 26 years to win back to back titles? We have a full preview and betting tips for the game below.
The Sydney Roosters start as warm favourites in the 2019 decider as they look to claim back to back titles. But the underdog Canberra Raiders won’t be backing down as the Green Machine look to end a 25 year GF drought. Thus far in the 2019 finals series, both sides have been impressive defensively and this matchup figures to be a close & low scoring battle.
It’s always tough being the defending champions after 2018 but the Roosters are just one win away from ultimate glory on Sunday night. They finished the regular season 2nd on the ladder and that meant a matchup with their rival Rabbitohs in Week 1. Well, it was pretty much over in the first half as the Roosters stars ran riot. The 30-6 result gave them the week off and that saw them face another rivalry clash against the Storm last Saturday night. In a defensive battle, Sydney outlasted Melbourne 14-6. Their defensive line speed is really tough to crack and that shows in their last 4 finals where they’ve conceded just 22 total points. So that’ll be the key once again as they take on the Raiders. In team news, they’ll receive a massive boost in the middle of the park with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves back from suspension. Which will help them stop Josh Papalii. Jake Friend has been named in the reserves so he could be a late replacement. It’ll also help that Cooper Cronk’s shoulder isn’t a topic of concern this year and he’ll be keen to end his NRL career with another title.
The Raiders finished 10th in 2018 and they’ve definitely exceeded expectations with this Grand Final appearance. Raider fans have waited a long time for this moment so ANZ will be packed with green and white. Some key offseason recruitments have been the major reason why they’ve improved. Which includes fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and second-row enforcer John Bateman. Moving Jack Wighton to five-eighth has also helped. In this finals series, Canberra have overcome the Storm in Melbourne (12-10) and outplayed the Rabbitohs last week (16-10). So they shouldn’t fear the experienced Roosters on Sunday. Similarly to Sydney, Ricky Stuart has the Raiders up and about defensively, which will be the major aspect to watch against the Roosters. They’ll need to contain the likes of Tedesco, Mitchell, Cronk and Keary if they’re looking to break this premiership drought. Papalii was massive against the Rabbitohs last week and he’ll need the same output against the tough Roosters pack. With Waerea-Hargreaves back in the tri-colours lineup, he won’t have it as easy this week though.
ANZ Stadium does present an interesting challenge for both sides. The Raiders have barely played here in recent seasons with just 4 games since 2017. Their only venture to ANZ in 2019 was against the Bulldogs during the SOO period and they won a grinding affair 12-10. Meanwhile, the Roosters have won 2 of 3 at this venue in 2019. But they obviously have the advantage and experience of playing in the GF last season. Generally, the Under is a great bet at ANZ Stadium, especially in finals so we like it here as well.
Ultimately, we have two of the best defensive teams in the NRL facing off in this Grand Final. As the old cliche goes, defence wins championships and we can’t go the past the Under in this clash. So far in the 2019 finals series, the Roosters have not conceded a single point in the first half of both their wins. So it’s hard to see the inexperienced Raiders jumping out to an early lead. Meanwhile, Canberra has held the Storm and Rabbitohs to just 10 points in their 2 finals. They’ll come out hard at the Roosters and will be aiming up defensively in the first 20 minutes. It also helps that 3 of the last 4 Grand Finals have been low scoring. Last year, it was the Roosters by 15 points in a 21-6 result and we believe this one will go under 33.5 as well.
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