Preview Grand Final 2011

Eagles v Warriors

So now the Big Dance has arrived!

A few facts and figures –

– Eagles finished 2nd, have won both finals and had a week off, the Warriors arrive from 6th spot off a week one towelling then victories over the Tigers and then Storm.

– H2H Eagles have a healthy recent record winning 6 of their last 7; at the ground the Eagles are 5/6, the Warriors 2/5.

– Defensively the Eagles concede 13 a game, the Warriors 20.

Eagles –

– Two very significant “ins” with Glen Stewart and Lussick returning. What is also significant is that they return from suspension, not injury and so are ready to go full tilt. They add considerable size, muscle and right edge attacking punch.

– Experience, the Eagles are now 3 of the last 5 GF’s, including a victory, they have some 9 players with such experience many of whom are also Australian and Origin rep players.

– More often than not the Eagles make defence matter, a ytd average of just over 13 in today’s game is outstanding, franked through recent key contests against the Broncos (14), Cowboys ( and Storm (4).

– I like their preparation, it looks well timed and balanced, with the benefit of experience. They don’t have the disadvantage of travel and would have had plenty of time for training and prep efforts around their media and GF commitments this week.

Warriors –

– Settled line up with no significant injuries, have played week in week out.

– Lack major game experience but do have some quality leaders in Mannering, Luck and Hohaia.

– Defence is an issue, they are averaging 50+ missed tackles through each of the last 4 weeks (yes, I said 50+) yet bar the Broncos game have escaped being punished for it. Both outside edges have notable weakness, in particular their right; Inu, Maloney and Johnson will see a lot of traffic.

– Have travelled 6 of their last 7 games, but are experienced at it. I question their prep this week, from a distance they look very much caught up in the moment and hype as opposed to the job at hand and yet to be done. They travelled last Sunday, again Wednesday, had fan and media days last Monday and again late Wednesday; will be based in a hotel full of GF hype for the days leading up to Sunday and as of this morning (Friday) still had players doing live media interviews.

The Warriors effort last Sunday was certainly their best this year, and had elements of quality throughout it. What has been very noticeable through the last two weeks is that off the back of their touch up in wk 1 by the Broncos the Warriors have reverted to a simple high % game plan looking to play field position, control and discipline and carve out their opportunities. They have cut significantly their 2nd phase play (offloads near cut in half) and their ball player Maeto has become far more controlled with if and when he now chooses to offload (he has also halved the number of offloads that he has been making). So don’t be fooled into some of the media talk of their ad lib attack approach, they have knuckled down through recent weeks to a solid game plan that can win finals games. The continuing concern is their defence; 50 misses a game at this level is horrendous and will eventually be punished, the Tigers let them off the hook at 18-6 after carving them up numerous times; the Storm had no go forward or up front muscle to be able to get any sort of field position to start to ask those sorts of questions. I think we’ll see that change this Sunday.

The Eagles are playing quality footy, the right style of game plan that wins big matches and it’s hard to pick fault in them into this. Unlike the Storm last week Hasler loves playing a 8 man forward orientated plan of muscle and physical power through the mid field and they’ll certainly look to accommodate the Warriors in this battle. He has also introduced some clever angle runs by his forwards (notable last week v the Broncos), breaking up the line and structure of defensive attack as opposed to just settling for a straight up and down arm wrestle. Against both the Storm and then Broncos they started very quickly with a lot of physical intent, I’m sure we’ll see something very similar here. For mine the Eagles have considerable advantage in their attack options, they set up either side very well, have short options off their 7 or 6 or wider hits off their back rower or centre, with the option of Brett Stewart linking in.

It may seem horribly simple but I think the key to this is game is the advantage line and kicking games. The Eagles have dominated over the advantage line quickly through recent weeks, in particular against the Broncos last week near blowing them off the park (backwards). The Warriors met weak resistance last week but they also trampled the Storm through the mid field. This will be an interesting and telling contest and will decide much of what else then unfolds. The kicking game of either side will also be critical, both sides like to play off positive kick return momentum, the placement of kicks, chase and any basic error will be telling, as will be the short in goal options where I think the Eagles probably have an advantage with smarter and sharper execution.

I favour the Eagles, I think they have timed their run well, have all the right ingredients led by a big pack of physical forwards and a significant experience edge; the return of Stewart and Lussick to a team already in form has to be a major plus. The Warriors were good last week, but their opponents weren’t, their defensive issues and preparation this week are real concerns, and under pressure they do have some simple yet critical errors in them – but they are very positive and when “on” play with some quality, the Eagles will need to shut them down early and control the game to their liking. At their best the Eagles will be very hard to beat. Eagles

 Keen on the Eagles tri bet >6.5 or a similar line look the right interests

Interests

YTD:  Bets / Winners : 134 / 66  Units Bet : 484  Return : 662.36    P/L :  +178.36     POT  +36.85%

With only the one game I’ll leave it up to you if you choose to have an interest. As suggested above the Eagles tri bet >6.5 or a similar line look the way to play the game. I’m keen on Foran for Man Of The Match, closely followed by Lyon.

After 30 weeks that’ll do for this year. Hopefully there’s been some interest along the way, and for those who like to play we’ve found a winner or three and a handy profit.

See you next year!

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