Our resident Dragons fan is back once more, with his take on the game of the round in the grand final qualifiers. Do you agree?
MATCH OF THE ROUND: FINALS ROUND THREE – Melbourne Storm (2) V Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (4) – Friday, AAMI Park. 19.45 local time, 21.45 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: A much deserved week off after being one of the top two victors from the first round for Melbourne.
Controversy reigned supreme as Manly Warringah beat the North Queensland Cowboys 22-12
THIS WEEK: The Grand Final qualifiers. Melbourne have had a week off after what can only be called a hectic year. A team that has been one of the most successful since their inception in 1998. Familiar territory for this team, as they’ve been finals bound plenty of times. A team with their heads screwed on that know exactly what to do and do it extremely well. Melbourne are structured so well, and it’s so successful for them.
Manly Warringah are getting to know Melbourne quite well, as their rivalry continues in this one. Taking the hard road to the Grand Final for sure, a loss and a win sees them get to play Melbourne in what will be an enthralling encounter. If you think they’re good in the regular season, they are even better in the finals. A high amount of respect for the ball and power; two things that stand out for this Manly team.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A win. Melbourne haven’t made it this far to lose. They’ve been the second best team all year, but they will play like the best. A Grand Final spot is only for the best four teams. The players in this team are all peaking at the right time, and the Big Three will have their work cut out for them. With a week off, they will have had time to rid old habits, and sucked everything up. This is a week that could be your last for 2012. The Storm are a fantastic side, and defensively sound. I don’t see much getting through them.
A win, once again. The Sea Eagles under Toovey have lost nothing in what was a crazy off-season for the Premiers. A chance to go back to back is something very rear and with a win here, they could be the first side since Brisbane in 1992 and 1993. They have the skills, the players, and the motivation to win this. To prove that it wasn’t controversy and luck that got them over the line last week. They are a tough nut to crack, and sound all around. There’s nothing separating these two teams from victory.
FINALS X-FACTORS: Billy Slater – Time and time again, Slater delivers. Expect the best from Billy The Kid.
Matt Ballin – I don’t think he receives enough credit, but he is a defining point in the Manly side.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Jason Ryles – All the experience you need.
Jason King – Solid with ball in hand and wears his heart on his sleeve.
Getting harder and harder to pick these. Gah. Melbourne. 22-14