NRL Finals Week 2, 2007
By John Chelsea
The media attention and overall build-up to this Saturdays NRL Final between the Eels and the Bulldogs has been unlike anything seen in recent years. The two old foes getting all the Sydney headlines and look certain to attract a large crowd to Telstra on the weekend.
While the build-up is great for the NRL; ‘a promoters dream!’ as they say – The advantages are also there for the winner of this match to take with both hands.
While survival is the first thought for both teams; winning this match also brings huge benefits; bucket loads of confidence, momentum and a finals experience edge moving into Week 3. The Sydney winner will benefit from increased mental toughness after a week of media and fan scrutiny in Week 2 of the Finals.
The winner faces Melbourne at the Victorian Telstra Dome venue. A big road trip no doubt; however the Storm face hurdles of their own as one of the Sydney sides head down south to put an end to the Storm juggernaut.
The lack of tight, gritty, arm wrestle style matches for the Storm is sure to hinder them in their Week 3 outing. After smashing Brisbane and then having a week off – not really an ideal build-up, will they be ready for a battle hardened, defence oriented Sydney team that is ready to take them into the trenches?
While many think the Storm are specials, their free flowing style might not be the right type of game against their upcoming opponent. In recent years of NRL Finals – the Grand Final winner has done so on the back of Finals form, not so much regular season form.
Take the Broncos in 2006, struggling for most of the regular season – they put it all together in the Finals and it was momentum through the final 4 weeks got them over the line. It was the same for the Wests Tigers in 2005, an average contender through the year – their fairytale came true when they started believing in themselves after some big finals wins. Their run at the end just couldn’t be stopped.
Thats why all the spoils are on offer for either the Eels or the Bulldogs if they can win on Saturday night. Winning the tough local derby will give them confidence and momentum – putting one of them in a perfect position to mount a serious attack on the highly fancied Storm in Week 3 and give themselves every chance of making the NRL Grand Final.