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NRLW grand final: Where it will be won and lost

The Broncos and Roosters went through a dress rehearsal in last week's final round of the regular season before the NRL Women's Telstra Premiership grand final on Sunday.

While the Broncos got the psychological edge with the result, both coaches have walked away with some feedback and insight into what worked and what needs to be fixed ahead of their return to ANZ Stadium this weekend.

With several key players due to return for each side, looked into where the NRLW grand final will be won and lost. Will the Broncos lift the trophy for a third time or can the Roosters cause an upset?

Where the NRLW grand final will be won and lost

Experience matters – or does it?

The Broncos could have up to 11 players who featured in last year's grand final take the field again on Sunday with Lavinia Gould (leg) listed on the reserves this week.

Of those 11 players, just five remain from the club's inaugural grand final line-up in 2018 – highlighting the Broncos' substantial turnover in the last few years despite their success.

The Roosters will not be without their own experience on the big stage with seven players remaining from their 2018 grand final line-up including spine members Zahara Temara and Nita Maynard.

Teammates like skipper Corban McGregor and Hannah Southwell have no shortage of big-game experience.

The middle

It's the old cliche that everything starts in the middle but this couldn't be more accurate on Sunday. 

Brisbane's forward pack boasts plenty of international experience and Ali Brigginshaw's move to the lock position this year complements a side that looks to attack through the middle, creating space out wide.

The Broncos' dominance over the past two grand finals has been highlighted through the yardage made in attack and the lack of metres they've allowed their opponents.

Last year they produced a whopping 1375 metres compared to the Dragons' 730 to dominate them on the big stage.

In 2018, the numbers told a similar story (1072 to 744) despite the Roosters finishing the game with more possession and a higher completion rate.

The Roosters went close to matching the Broncos in this area last week and were missing premiere forwards Hannah Southwell and Simaima Taufa.

Equally, the defending champions had their own powerhouse forward in Amber Hall sitting on the sidelines through suspension.

Hall was averaging 122 metres, including 51.1 post-contact, and four tackle breaks per game prior to her one-match ban.

Kennedy Cherrington appears to be the point of difference for the Roosters after chalking up another 103 metres last week.

NRLW Rookie of the Year - Kennedy Cherrington

Going up by six

If the Roosters are to cause an upset they'll have to do so despite the goal-kicking prowess of Broncos winger Meg Ward, who is kicking at a 92% success rate for the season.

Ward was enormous for the Broncos in last year's decider, slotting five from six conversions – including three from out wide.

She backed up last week's dress rehearsal against the Roosters with four goals, including the conversion of her own try from the sideline.

Roosters playmaker Zahara Temara is kicking at 73% but struggles for yardage trying to convert from a long distance.


It's no secret the Broncos have been the benchmark across several areas of the game but their ability to offload at will is a clear point of difference between the two sides.

Offloading in the women's game has risen significantly across the three seasons with a current 69% increase from 2018 to 2020 with 93 recorded so far after three rounds (up by 16 on last year).

The Broncos have improved on their 2019 average of 7.3 offloads to record 8.7 offloads per game ahead of Sunday's clash.

The Roosters have struggled in recent years with just four per game but have lifted that total to five in 2020.

Hersday - grand final edition

Broncos forwards Chelsea Lenarduzzi (8) and Amber Hall (6) are the prime offload champions with Lenarduzzi's ability, especially close to the line, leading to tries this season.

Big-hitter Hannah Southwell and Sarah Togatuki are the Tricolours' best with two apiece.

Catch you napping

The Broncos will be well aware of the Roosters' dummy-half rotation that is working a treat for the Eastern Suburbs outfit.

Nita Maynard and Quincy Dodd are relishing their team's go-forward and created a bit of havoc in last week's match.

Maynard split the Broncos in the first half before Dodd went close to scoring several minutes later, with the pair having produced three tries in two weeks with darting efforts close to the line.

The Broncos will be hoping Lavinia Gould will be a late inclusion but will otherwise be relying on Lauren Brown and Chante Temara to take on the line and give the Roosters a taste of their own medicine.

Holding your nerve

Completion rate averages have barely changed for either side over the past three seasons with the Roosters and Broncos holding onto the ball 70% of the time.

However, the Roosters coughed up 11 mistakes in last week's defeat and will need to get back to completing at over the 70 percent mark if they're to have any chance.

Two of the side's crucial mistakes came after points, which allowed the Broncos to strike back and kill off any momentum.

When the game is on the line ...

Who do you need to step up? The battle of the playmaking spines is crucial.

It's clear as day Ali Brigginshaw is the player to turn to for the Broncos. Brigginshaw proved this last week once the Roosters got close, the Dally M winner setting up Tamika Upton for a try before scoring one herself. 

Upton and Raecene McGregor are have also been key weapons this season, while Tarryn Aiken is the dark horse who has added another dimension in attack.

For the Roosters, Hannah Southwell needs to set the tone in the middle and the likes of Zahara Temara and Melanie Howard need to execute if the pack is producing the consistent go-forward they have been in recent weeks. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.