Warrington: Phil Clarke tipping Wolves to win the 2013 Grand Final
Phil Clarke explains why Warrington should win the Grand Final - and why the Hull sides won't.
Last Updated: 12/09/13 12:29pm
It's less than four weeks before a captain will be presented with that big, shiny, silver trophy in the Directors Box at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams.
Do the Giants dare to dream that this is their year? Will the Wolves erase the nightmare of last year? Can the Challenge Cup holders collect both the big prizes of 2013? Does anyone in Hull have a hope of winning?
Is it experience, great players, good coaching or luck that determines who enjoys the cold, dark nights of winter with the memories of being crowned Champions? I suppose it's a combination of all four to some extent.
In some ways it's slightly unfair that all of a team's effort and sacrifice in the last seven months can be forgotten as a result of what happens in the next one, but that's how it is.
We took a look on the Stats Pack show this week at the players who've made the most breaks in Super League this season.
You have to score some tries if you want to be the winners and I wanted to know if the best teams had the best line breakers.
Interestingly, only three of the top 10-ranked players in this stat are playing in the Play-Offs. Charnley, Tomkins and Wardle are the only men not on holiday this week.
We then looked at the best players who create tries for their teammates, and it was fascinating to see that only Danny Brough (pictured) and Richard Myler feature in the top five.
Chase, Dobson and Hanbury have been great at setting up their teammates, but that on its own hasn't helped their team into the top half of the table.
It strikes me that it is the teams with the best balance across their side that have the best chance of success, and I think that they are Warrington and Huddersfield.
It's possible that you could see the Giants as a one man band orchestrated by Danny Brough, but I'm not sure that's true.
He might have the 'eye' of people who watch their games, and we give him lots of mentions in the commentary box, but he is well supported by a strong squad that function in an effective, collective manner.
During the games this season we've used a Performance Gauge to show the three most relevant stats in a rugby league match. The breaks, metres and tackle success are the best guide to success in the sport.
If we take a look at these key performance indicators for the teams in the top eight we see some revealing, and perhaps alarming, stats for some supporters.
The Warriors supporters are perhaps aware of their team's troubles. They may have won the Challenge Cup, but they did that without beating a team in the top half of the table.
Measured over their last four Super League games, they rank 11th in terms of breaks, 14th for metres and seventh with their tackle success. The challenge for their coach is to turn this around in the games that matter now.
The Rhinos have been heading in the opposite direction. They've been making more breaks than they did over the first 20 rounds, more metres than any other team in the league and their coach seems to have a magic wand that improves their defence as autumn begins.
However, the team who you might back for an each-way place in the Grand Final has to be St Helens. Despite the lack of recognised play-makers playing together on a weekly basis, they've topped the list in terms of breaks, rank third for metres made and more importantly have the second best defence in Super League.
I'm reminded of the old adage - it's not how you start but how you finish. Imagine if they were to beat the Giants at some point in the Play-Offs after what happened in Round 1. (Giants won 40-4 at St Helens for those who didn't see it or who have tried to erase it from their memory!).
I really don't think that either team from Hull have a hope in playing in Manchester this year. The Black and Whites can't attack and the Red and Whites can't defend well enough to win three games in the next three weeks.
The French flair is great to watch and they gave the Wolves a very tough game last week. They could win a game or two but I don't think that they'll be walking down that tunnel at the Stretford End. I believe that their league position is an accurate reflection of where they'll end up.
In an eight-team competition it is foolish to try to pick a winner but I am. The Warrington Wolves. For me the experience that they gained in 2012 will be the reason why they will win it this year.
Good luck to every team. I hope that they all play to their potential. May the best team win.