Melbourne and Manly to face-off tonight - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Melbourne and Manly to face-off tonight

By Todd Balym 30/09/2007 06:09:01 AM Comments (0)

The two best teams of 2007 will fight for the ultimate prize at Telstra Stadium tonight with Melbourne and Manly battling for the NRL premiership.

Minor premiers Melbourne are looking to convert two years of dominance into premiership success after failing in last year's decider to Brisbane.

Manly, the second best side throughout 2007, will carry significant confidence into the clash having beaten the Storm earlier this season and will look to win the club's first title since 1996.

Both clubs have had injury concerns leading into the decider, Melbourne battered after a bruising win over Parramatta last week.

Prop Ben Cross has been the biggest concern with a hamstring strain while fullback Billy Slater had knee soreness but is a definitely starter.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said earlier this week he would not risk Cross if he won't be able to complete the game.

Cross has worked hard on rehabilitation this week and pushed his case to play with a fitness test on Saturday night.

"We're not going to take any big risks," said Bellamy.

"If he can get through the game and then he needs four weeks recovery well we're going to play him without a doubt.

"But if they (medical staff) think there's a real chance that he might break down in the first 10 minutes, well, we probably won't take that chance."

Manly winger Chris Hicks was the main concern at the Sea Eagles having not played since the first week of the finals with a serious sprained ankle.

Hicks trained solidly earlier in the week and is a certain starter, as is Glenn Stewart who played with a sprained ankle in last week's win over North Queensland.

Manly pivot Jamie Lyon, who along with veteran Steve Menzies are the only players in the Sea Eagles side with previous grand final experience, says overcome early nerves will be crucial to the result.

"You can't get carried away with it. As soon as you get out there it is just another game," said Lyon.

"There's going to be a lot of hype and that sort of stuff but once you get out on the grass it's just another game - but probably the biggest game of your life.

"Don't let yourself get over-awed."

The NRL grand final will kick off at 7.15pm (AEST).

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