On Friday night, a woeful display from the Sea Eagles and a clinical one from the Storm sent Cameron Smith’s Melbourne side into the Grand Final, comfortably defeating last year’s winners at AAMI Park.
For the first couple of minutes the Sea Eagles looked good. Sure, there were some early handling errors, but they looked resolute in defence, comfortably dealing with early back-to-back sets from the Storm.
But things quickly went downhill. When Cooper Cronk pounced on a dropped ball from big Tony Williams and scampered away to score, the writing was on the wall, and a rampant Melbourne side proceeded to tear the Sydney-siders apart.
While an out-of-sorts kicking display from Cameron Smith kept Manly in touch they never really looked like challenging for a place in the Grand Final, and the 40-12 final score line was an accurate reflection of a one-sided affair which was completely dominated by the Victorians.
On Saturday, Des Hasler became the first coach to lead two different teams to Grand Finals in consecutive years, as the Minor Premier’s swatted aside the Rabbitohs. 32-8
The Rabbits were seeking their first final appearance in 41 years, and lead 8-4 when, in the 26th minute, play-maker and Rookie of the Year Adam Reynolds succumbed to a hamstring injury.
The Redfern boys weren’t terrible, but the Doggies took their opportunities when they were presented with them, and ended up spending a comfortable last ten minutes with the result a fore-gone conclusion.
Next week’s final pits a young, exciting team with a red-hot coach against a side of proven performers in a club used to success in recent years.