3 Oct 2008

Best defensive team comes up against best attacking team in NRL

7:40 am on 3 October 2008

Sunday's national rugby league grand final between Melbourne and Manly is not only a repeat of last year's decider but pits the competition best defensive team against the best attacking side.

Manly go into the match as favourites with few predicting a repeat of the 34-8 scoreline Melbourne served up last year.

The reigning premiers are without suspended captain Cameron Smith and injured Test forward Ryan Hoffman and despite three of last years winning side moving on, the absence of those players hasn't affected Melbourne's style of play.

They've conceded the fewest points, line breaks and missed tackles of any team, while also scoring freely in attack.

But Manly have taken the mantle as the NRL's top attacking team from the Storm this season leading the way in points scored, and averaging more than five tries per game.

The problem facing Manly, however, is that 54 years of rugby league grand final history shows that gaining revenge on your grand final conqueror is rarely achieved.

In the six previous grand final repeats, only once have the runners-up managed to triumph the following year - that was Penrith in 1991 when they turned the tables on Canberra.