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It’s been tough all year and NRL grand final certainly no different!

It’s extremely difficult to split the Roosters and the Sea Eagles in the NRL grand final.
That should come as no surprise because splitting teams thoroughout the 2013 premiership rounds proved a nightmare.
Most of the games turned out to be 50/50 contests – a term used often this year – and the grand final match up is no different.
The Roosters and Sea Eagles have match-winners all over the park and can turn it on in attack, but perhaps the Roosters have the edge in defence.
Pundits have given a million reasons all week as to why the Roosters and Sea Eagles can win the grand final.
What on earth can Sportsword offer?
Perhaps it’s that the Roosters entered the finals with a full head of steam after blitzing the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in the battle for the minor premiership in Round 26.
In contrast, the Sea Eagles, who had players missing in the final round of the home and away campaign, suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of the Panthers.
The Roosters made it three from three against the Sea Eagles in 2013 with a stirring 4-0 victory in the opening week of the finals.
The minor premiers then went on the rampage in the preliminary final and although the Roosters appeared to have the Knights’ measure the Novocastrians seemed to lose the plot after losing Danny Buderus to injury.
The Knights made it to Week 3 of the finals after downing the Bulldogs and Storm, who were running on empty come September.
Against the Sea Eagles, the Roosters were dynamite in defence before showing their wares in attack against the Knights.
The Sea Eagles were far from disgraced in the qualifying final and although they got the “rub of the green” when it came to several big decision in the semi-final against the Sharks they were arguably the better side.
Down 14-0 against the Rabbitohs in the preliminary final, the Sea Eagles re-grouped magnificently to blow the red and greens off the park.
Yes, the Sea Eagles seemingly clicked into gear after a shocking start to the match, but it has to be said that a host of Rabbitohs players froze when it started to get a tight.
As well as the Rabbitohs performed for a major portion of the season, the biggest worry was that they had a number of players who would be exposed in brutal fashion if the team failed to fire as a unit.
That’s exactly what happened against the Sea Eagles, which was hard to fathom after overcoming the Storm – a side that has caused them troubles in recent years – in Week 1 of the finals.
The Sea Eagles won most of the “head to head” battles against the Rabbitohs, and more importantly they matched solid defence with exhilarating attacking football when the Rabbitohs inexplicably waved the white flag after 20 minutes.
The other good news for the Sea Eagles is that no team had posted four wins over the same team in the one season, but the Roosters were by far the better side when they triumphed at Brookvale Oval (16-4) and Allianz Stadium (18-12) before prevailing in an epic qualifying final.
Yes, the Sea Eagles almost turned the tables three weeks ago, but they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Roosters and still couldn’t get over the line.
As well as the Roosters defended in the qualifying final, they offered nothing in attack when the Sea Eagles launched a second-half blitzkrieg.
The Sea Eagles displayed exceptional grit against the Sharks and Rabbitohs, but the likes of Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart and Jamie Buhrer could not possibly be 100% fit.
And the loss of Richie Fa’aoso is a blow as he provides plenty of mongrel.
Surely Joe Gualavo won’t be rushed into the 17 at the 11th hour.
The Roosters were terrific against the Knights and you wouldn’t expect them to make changes to the side, but their hopes will soar if Boyd Cordner and Luke O’Donnell return from injury because their impact off the bench could prove the difference between winning and losing.
Supporters of the Roosters will feel the nerves if Cordner and O’Donnell are excluded from the final 17.
The other significant aspect in regards to the Roosters and Sea Eagles is that they’ve basically fielded similar teams during the finals, which will guarantee continued cohesion come Sunday.
The battle of the halves will have an important bearing in the final result, but rival forwards Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters) and Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles) are sure to have a massive say in proceedings.
Hooker Matt Ballin is a consistent performer for the Sea Eagles, but he could have his hands full matching opposing rake Jake Friend, who has been outstanding for the Roosters during the finals.
Winger Joseph Leilua was horrendous for the Roosters when they lost the 2010 grand final to the Dragons, so Daniel Tupou will have to be switched on or Sea Eagles flyer David Williams – like Jason Nightingale three years ago – could have a field day.
Mitchell Pearce (Roosters) and Jorge Taufua (Sea Eagles) are the players who will cause respective supporters plenty of consternation come game time.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) and Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) will rip in from start to finish.
Sam Moa (Roosters) and Brenton Lawrence (Sea Eagles) cannot afford to take a back seat or their team could suffer as a result.
Finally, we tip with our “head” and occasionally with our “gut” at Sportsword, not with our “heart”.
If you still can’t separate the Roosters and Sea Eagles then you may want to consider the following.
Roosters
* Their six shut-outs this season is an NRL record, while they have also held a team scoreless in a half of football on 19 occasions.
* In the three games against the Sea Eagles this season, the Roosters did not concede a point in the first half.
* After an epic qualifying final, the Roosters have enjoyed a relatively easy path to the decider.
* The Roosters were ranked No.1 in attack and defence at the end of the premiership rounds.
* The Roosters ended the home and away schedule as minor premiers.
Sea Eagles
* In two of the games they lost against the Roosters, Brett Stewart and Kieran Foran were spectators because of injury.
* Truly awesome against the Rabbitohs for the last 60 minutes and will trouble the Roosters if they bring that form to the table on Sunday.
* They have plenty of grand final experience – they were premiers in 2011 – and boast arguably the best backline in the premiership.
* Against the Sharks and Rabbitohs they looked dead and buried before rallying to post memorable wins.
* The Sea Eagles ended the premiership rounds in fourth place.
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