The Roosters and Raiders will do battle in Sunday’s NRL Grand Final at 7:30pm at ANZ Stadium (AEST).
The Raiders came from nowhere this season to qualify for the decider as the club searches for its first premiership since 1994.
After finishing the regular season in fourth place, Ricky Stuart’s team upset the Storm in week one of the finals before knocking off the Rabbitohs to make it through to the big one.
The Raiders will go in unchanged from the 17 that knocked off the Souths, with hooker Josh Hodgson expected to overcome a virus to play.
Despite finishing their campaign in second place, the star-studded Roosters have been widely dubbed the flag favourites all season.
Trent Robinson’s unit breezed past South Sydney and Melbourne during their finals campaign as the Tricolours searches for back-to-back premierships.
The Roosters welcome back Jared Waerea-Hargreaves from a one-game suspension, pushing Sio Siua Taukeiaho back to the bench and Lindsay Collins to the reserves.
The two grand finalists have faced off on 63 different occasions, with Canberra winning 28 and the Roosters 35.
The Roosters have won nine of their last 10 games to take strong form into the clash, giving them short-priced favouritism in this market at $1.40.
Canberra has won four of their last six but will take great confidence out of knocking off two heavyweights in the Storm and Rabbitohs en route to the grand final.
The Raiders are the big outsider at $3.10, dropping both of their clashes against the Roosters during the season by narrow margins.
In their first meeting in Round 9 at Suncorp Stadium, the Roosters claimed a 30-24 victory behind two tries and two conversions from Latrell Mitchell.
In their most recent encounter in Round 21 at GIO Stadium, the Tricolours came out on top again 22-18, with Mitchell starring again with three conversions.
The Roosters are loaded with talent and will be hard to beat, having proven just 12 months ago they have what it takes to perform on the grand final stage.
Tip: Roosters win at $1.40
The line currently sits at -7.5 in favour of the Roosters.
Given that both of their meetings this season were decided by six points or less, the line would appear to favour the Raiders.
However, from their past five wins, the Rooster have notched 36, 12, 16, 24 and eight-point winning margins. When they win, they usually win big, averaging an impressive 19.1-points as a winning margin this season, the second-best effort in the league.
When stars like Mitchell, Luke Keary and James Tedesco get enough of the ball, this team is hard to stop and will get through even the strongest of defensive walls.
On the other side of the coin, the Raiders’ stout defence means they don’t give up big scores. Canberra’s averaging losing margin of 5.6 was the second-best effort in the NRL this season. And they will need to impose themselves defensively, as they did when they were under siege against the Rabbitohs last week.
From their last five losses, Canberra dropped those games by 4, 4, 4, 6 and 6-point margins.
If the Raiders can keep the recently crowned Dally M medallist Tedesco at bay, they are every chance of pulling off an upset.
Tip: Roosters (-7.5) @ $1.95
Having already picked the Roosters, it is now just a matter of determining how much they will win by.
The experience of Keary and Cooper Cronk could go a long way in topping their half counterparts Jack Wighton and Adan Sezer. The Roosters led the NRL in tries (116), try assists (92) and line break assists (89) and ranked second in points (671) and third in goals (103).
This high-powered scoring will prove to be a handful for the Raiders and how they stand up on the grandest stage of them all is still a big unknown quantity.
The matchup between Tedesco and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is set to have a big impact on the result.
CNK has been a revelation in his first season Canberra, tallying a massive 1,697 metres from his 25 appearances, scoring 11 tries and assisting three.
Tedesco scored 18 tries and assisted on 13 this season, also standing up in the State of Origin series to be named the Wally Lewis medallist.
Tip: Roosters (1-12) @ $2.70
Anytime Try Scorer
Mitchell led the league in scoring this season (267), ranking second in tries (19) and goals (95).
If the Roosters win the game you could bank on the star centre scoring a try. In last year’s decider, Mitchell scored a try, adding three goals to prove he can perform on the big stage.
Teammate Daniel Tupou scored the opening try from last year’s game and is always dangerous if the Roosters get their passing game going, while Tedesco will be feeling good after being crowned the Dally M medallist and is a big-time player.
Tip: Latrell Mitchell @ $2.20