After 29 supercharged weeks of elite Rugby League action the game every footy fan around Australia has been waiting for takes place at ANZ Stadium this Sunday, that’s right it’s NRL Grand Final 2012 time.
Each year the world’s toughest Rugby League series starts out with 16 eager teams vying for the title of the NRL Telstra premiers and now it is down to just two.
In one of the most scintillating NRL grand finals of recent years, Sunday arvo will see the flying Canterbury Bulldogs take on the hard-hitting Melbourne Storm in Sydney with kick off scheduled for 5:15pm (local time).
2012 NRL Grand Final
- Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- When: Sunday September 30, 2012
- Time: 5:15pm (local) kick-off
- Last Time They Met: Round 16 2012 – Bulldogs 20 v 4 Storm (Mackay)
- Head-to-Head: Canterbury 15 – Melbourne 14
- Referees: Tony Archer, Ben Cummins
- Odds*: Bulldogs ($2.03) – Storm ($1.79)
Doggies coach Des Hasler has turned the blue-and-whites into a professional and ultra-consistent outfit, the club having previously missed out on both the 2010 and 2011 finals, who surprisingly go into Sunday’s showdown as the narrow underdogs in the NRL odds at bookies around the country.
Canterbury-Bankstown has won 15 of their last 16 games played, an imposing record and one that cannot be ignored.
Meanwhile the Storm, who on Sunday make their fifth grand final appearance in seven years, are also coming off a magic run with seven straight victories behind them making this one a definite battle of the best that this season has turned up – the 25th time over the years that the two top-ranked sides from the regular season play off.
For the Bulldogs it is about rewarding their new coach for his hard work, Hasler out for back-to-back premierships after taking Manly all the way 12 months ago, and if successful he will be the first mentor in NRL history to do that with two different clubs successively.
For Melbourne it is about regaining the pride and prestige associated with the purple crew before their two previous premiership titles from 2007 and 2009 were stripped from them during the salary cap rort.
It is most certainly a very even playing field in the stats’ department with the locals narrowly holding the head-to-head advantage having won 15 to Melbourne’s 14 victories between these two.
2012 NRL Grand Final Tip: Melbourne by 4 – bet now at bookmaker.com.au
Prepare for a disciplined and tactical 80 minutes from both sides, but not a big score.
Both teams are famous for their attack, note Ben Barbara for the Bulldogs especially here, but they are so evenly matched with quality defenders, note Cameron Smith & Cooper Cronk for the Storm, that in a big match like this it could go down to the wire.
So what have these two done during the finals to get here?
Canterbury secured a week off with their 16 – 10 week one win over the reigning premiers Manly before securing their spot in the Grand Final with an all-too-easy 32 – 8 annihilation of the Rabbitohs.
Melbourne also ran away with victory last week smashing the Sea Eagles 40 – 12 which came off the back of their finals week one 24 – 6 victory over South Sydney.
They match up in the lead-up so let’s move on to experience.
The Storm hold the advantage here with Slater and co. seasoned professionals with rich representative history and 11 players, to Canterbury’s five, who have played in a grand final.
Is that enough to get Melbourne over the line?
We say just – Melbourne by 4!
Take our tip, back your own prediction, and check out the full range of NRL grand final betting markets open right now at bookmaker.com.au.
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2012 NRL Grand Final Teams
Bulldogs: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Dene Halatau (one to be omitted).
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Dane Nielsen, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jessie Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowire. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Kevin Proctor, Jaiman Lowe, Richie Fa’aoso, Rory Kostjayson, Mahe Fonua, Siosaia Vave, Anthony Quinn (four to be omitted).