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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
After years of foundation work and three tough weeks of action, the first ever NRLW Grand final is upon us with the undefeated Brisbane Broncos taking on the Sydney Roosters on Sunday afternoon.
Brisbane come into the inaugural NRLW Grand Final as the form team of the competition, having dominated in their three games and being the only side to win more than one game in the season. The Broncos started the season at home at Suncorp Stadium up against the St George Illawarra Dragons where they scored a 30-4 victory in which they stamped themselves as the team to beat. A second-round clash against the Roosters was what faced the Broncos next, and just like the match against the Dragons, the Broncos were able to dominate and they took a 14-4 lead after opening up a 14-0 lead.
The final round of the competition saw the Broncos play in their third different state in as many weeks when they took on the New Zealand Warriors in Melbourne. They had their toughest task to begin with against the Warriors who were matching it with them in the first half. They began to gain the upper hand - and with nothing to lose, Broncos coach Paul Dyer took several key players from the field but the Broncos still kept their momentum up and took a 32-10 victory.
The Broncos dominance this season has been right across the park and it shows with a Broncos player topping 17 different statistics for the season. The key one for the Broncos is points scored, with fullback Chelsea Baker amassing 28 points - which is huge compared with a total of 34 points for the Roosters overall this season.
Heading into the NRLW season as favourites, the Tricolours struggled to live up to expectations in the opening two rounds, but locked in their grand final spot with a big win over an injury-riddled Dragons side. The Roosters' first match saw them take on the Warriors at a cold and wet ANZ Stadium. The Roosters struggled to adapt to the wet conditions and the big Warriors defence and they fell to a 10-4 defeat after trailing 10-0 early on. A clash with the Broncos awaited the Roosters and after being denied early points, they again fell behind this time by 14-0, before scoring a consolation try to lose 14-4.
They then faced a must win-clash against the Dragons and the concern was that the Tricolours had only managed two tries in two games and they were coming up against an impressive last start winner. The Roosters made a shock move by dropping NSW captain Maddie Studdon from the side but it worked - a clinical performance from halfback Zahara Temara as well as a four-try effort from winger Taleena Simon. The six try win was more than enough for the Roosters and booked their spot with a 26-0 victory.
Having begun the season slowly with their attack lacking any potency in the first fortnight, and it was the addition of Temara last week which sparked their performance. The stand-out player though, was star back Isabelle Kelly who looked the most dangerous in her three performances and scored the two tries for the Roosters in the first fortnight.
Last meeting: Round 2 2018 - Roosters 4 Broncos 14
Who to watch: Maitua Feterika - the Kiwi international has been an important part of the go-forward for the Broncos this season and will be a key part of their platform in the grand final. Feterika has averaged 81 metres per game which is key, but her impression is made close to the line where she becomes an instant threat with both her decoy running and her strong ball carrying.
Zahara Temara - starting the season in the unfamiliar role of lock, Temara was moved into the halves last weekend with coach Adam Hartigan hoping for a change in fortunes. The move paid off for the Roosters with her starring in her halfback role. Having had the chance to play a full 60 minutes, Temara caused issues for the Dragons with her kicking game including a kick that set up a try for Taleena Simon. The pressure will be on the Queensland international but another strong kicking game can set up the Roosters for a big afternoon.
My tip: It's tough to go past the Broncos, they've comprehensively outplayed their opposition in all three games this season and lead by the competitions form player Ali Brigginshaw, they'll will be looking the goods. The experience also favours Brisbane and it can be expected that Maddie Studdon will fit somewhere into the Roosters team - but it won't be enough for the Bondi girls, who will need to match their opposition for the full 60. Broncos' intensity will win it for them. Broncos by 10.
1. Chelsea Baker 2. Julia Robinson 3. Meg Ward 4. Amber Pilley 5. Amelia Kuk 6. Kimiora Nati 7. Ali Brigginshaw 8. Heather Ballinger 9. Brittany Breayley 15. Chelsea Lenarduzzi 11. Teuila Fotu-moala 12. Maitua Feterika 13. Rona Peters 10. Steph Hancock 14. Lavinia Gould 16. Mariah Storch 17. Arakua Ngatokotoru
1. Karina Brown 2. Brydie Parker 3. Shontelle Stowers 4. Isabelle Kelly 5. Taleena Simon 6. Lavina O'mealey 7. Zahara Temara 8. Ruan Sims 9. Nita Maynard 10. Elianna Walton 11. Tazmin Gray 12. Vanessa Foliaki 13. Simaima Taufa 14. Kylie Hilder 15. Sarah Togatuki 17. Victoria Latu 19. Kandy Kennedy
Referees: Jon Stone, Kasey Badger; Sideline Officials: Wyatt Raymond, Joshua McGowan; Video Referees: Henry Perenara, Bryan Norrie;