Decider to feature contrast of styles and storylines
IT'S 2015 all over again, only with a different cast of players.
Sunday's grand final between Cronulla and Melbourne will be a case of sentiment versus experience, with the Sharks looking to win the club's first premiership since they joined the competition in 1967.
It has obvious shades of last year's grand final when the North Queensland Cowboys, gunning for their maiden premiership in their 25th year in the competition, took on the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos, with six titles between 1992 and 2006, had the experience but, in the end, it was the emotion, desire and brilliance of Johnathan Thurston that proved the difference.
This year Cronulla will be the overwhelming sentimental favourite, having been to three grand finals, including the 1997 Super League premiership decider with Brisbane, but losing all of them.
Melbourne has Cronulla well covered on the score of experience, with the likes of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk having played in several grand finals together.
The Storm is also regarded as one of the best defensive sides in the past few decades, which means Cronulla will have to come up with a different game plan to get some points on the board.
Melbourne does everything right on the back of Smith and Cronk's decision-making and coach Craig Bellamy is one of the best at coming up with the right game plan in big matches.
Cronulla will have to come out of the blocks quick as Melbourne has led in 18 games at half-time this season, and won 17 of them, which shows how tough it is to wear down in the second half.
Still, the Sharks won 16 games straight during the season and despite a late-season stumble in which they went off the boil, they have looked very strong in the finals.
Coach Shane Flanagan gave his senior players the day off training and has a fitness watch out on Sam Tagataese, due to a shoulder injury, which has so far kept him out of the finals.
Powerhouse forward Joseph Paulo is battling a knee injury but, like Tagatease, is doing everything possible to play in the biggest game of the club's history.
The Sharks will use hooker Michael Ennis's impending retirement as added motivation but they won't need anything more than knowing they can create history and become club legends by delivering fans a long-craved title on Sunday.
"That's why we play the game, to win premierships," said Storm skipper Smith, who already has a grand final medal.
"We all play this game in the hope of getting an opportunity to win a premiership and we have that opportunity on Sunday.
"They're tough to get to and tough to win, a difficult thing to do.
"It takes a lot of effort and a bit of luck as well."
Melbourne's vice-like defence kept the NRL's best attacking team, Canberra, to just 12 points last weekend and if Cronulla is to be celebrating history it will need to take some risks to find a chink or two in the Storm defensive line.