In the Preliminary Finals we saw a barging Josh Papalii carrying several defenders, score the match winning try in Canberra’s defensively stoic 16-10 victory.
In Sydney’s crazy 14-6 win over Melbourne, both Siosiua Taukeiaho and Nelson Asofa-Solomona were sent off just after kick-off, when punches were thrown in the game’s opening exchanges.
Wow factors and moments such as these changed the outcomes of the games, for better or for worse.
And they meant that we will now be seeing a Raiders vs Roosters Grand Final on Sunday evening.
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Here are five key factors and moments that will decide the outcome of the 2019 National Rugby League Grand Final.
1 The opening 15-25 minutes
This is arguably the most important period of the game. Both sides will be setting the tone for the entirety of the match right here. One early try to either side such as Jarrod Croker in the 14th minute or Boyd Cordner in the 15th minute will give them a massive leg up. Or if Canberra or Sydney can’t score after repeated sets inside the opposition’s 20-meter line, it’ll rattle them a fair bit mentally. Players that create offensive magic such as Croker (13 tries, six try assists) or make the hard-nosed defensive plays eg. Victory Radley (35.1 tackles per game) will be under enormous, early pressure to deliver for their teams.
2 The battle between the two ferocious forward-packs
Whitehead, Bateman and Tapine vs Aubusson, Cordner and Radley is one hell of a battle. These are two forward packs that are slightly underrated but will leave it all out on the field. They will give it everything they have. Those three for the Raiders’ last match made 101 combined tackles. For the Roosters it was 74. Both forward packs will be tasked with the massive and crucial responsibility of laying the foundations for their flashier, point-scoring players to get through. There’s not a whole heap of glamorous names in there, but how they perform will be crucial in delivering their side that Premiership.