Mon, Sep 24, 11:03am by Staff Writer
The Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters will battle it out for the 2018 NRL Premiership on Sunday after both claiming wins in their respective preliminary finals last weekend.
The Melbourne Storm looked the fresher team on Friday night against Cronulla as they used a 20-0 first half outburst to beat the Sharks 22-6.
A first half double to Billy Slater and a try to Brodie Croft gave the Storm a near-insurmountable lead at the break.
Melbourne is $1.91 to win the NRL Premiership after Friday’s win.
Full back Billy Slater has been cited by the NRL’s match review committee for a shoulder charge early in the match on Sharks winger Sosaia Feki.
Slater came in from mid field to save a certain Sharks try, but was deemed to not have wrapped his arm and hit Feki with sufficient force to be classed as a grade one shoulder charge.
The Melbourne Storm will appeal the decision at the NRL Judiciary and should Slater miss, it would be strip him of the chance to play his final career game in the Grand Final.
The Storm otherwise have few concerns ahead of the Grand Final, with Craig Bellamy’s only dilemma being whether or not to play veteran Ryan Hoffman in his final game, after he missed the preliminary final.
Joe Stimson took his place on Friday night and played superbly, with 13 runs, 103 metres and 31 tackles.
The Sharks sorely missed Paul Gallen and Wade Graham on Friday night and looked ragged from the outset.
They were ill disciplined in the first half and gave away eight penalties in the game, as well as making 12 errors.
The Sydney Roosters have capped their minor premiership with a Grand Final appearance after downing rivals South Sydney 12-4 on Saturday night.
In the final game at Allianz Stadium, the Roosters kept the NRL’s best team tryless across 80 minutes to record a terrific win.
They are $1.91 to win the Grand Final, with oddsmakers unable to split the two sides.
South Sydney opened the scoring with a penalty goal, before Daniel Tupou scored giving the Roosters a 4-2 lead.
Blake Ferguson crossed early in the second half, but missed conversions were costing the Roosters as they only lead 8-4.
The game then went into a holding pattern, with South Sydney attacking relentlessly to no avail.
At one point the Bunnies had four consecutive sets inside the Roosters’ 20 metre zone and were unable to crack their stoic defence.
State of Origin hooker Damien Cook’s influence was stifled as he had only six runs in an uncharacteristically quiet performance for the touted Australian hooker.
Souths had more runs, more run metres and more offloads than the Roosters, as well as receiving most penalties than their opponents.
Incredibly it was Souths who missed fewer tackles on Saturday night, but the Chooks were able to better finish their attacking sequences thanks largely to their athletic wingers.
The big concern for the Roosters ahead of the Grand Final is the health of halfback Cooper Cronk.
Cronk was largely ineffective in the second half carrying an obvious shoulder complaint and would need to make a miraculous recovery to feature in Sunday night’s match.
NRL Grand Final Odds
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters $1.91
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