PRIME TARGET:  Cameron Smith needs to be stopped if the Cowboys are to beat Melbourne in the grand final.
PRIME TARGET: Cameron Smith needs to be stopped if the Cowboys are to beat Melbourne in the grand final. Ian Hitchcock

Ennis: Cowboys premiership mission not impossible

THE perfect game for the perfect Storm.

That's what the Cowboys will need to bring if they are to overcome Melbourne in Sunday's NRL grand final.

That's what Cronulla had to do last year. We had to complete at 93% to beat them and I think we had three errors during the entire game.

To beat Melbourne you need to be at your absolute best.

The Cowboys can beat the Storm but they have to go about it the way we did and that includes containing the Storm's main man - Dally M Medallist Cameron Smith.

He is their point of attack. He controls everything out of dummy half.

Cooper Cronk is very good with his kicking game and his execution of Craig Bellamy's game plan but in terms of creativity Smith is their man.

We made him get through a mountain of work last year in the grand final and tried to fatigue him as much as possible.

We just tried to limit his impact on the game, to limit what he is capable of doing and make him uncomfortable.

Then with Cronk we just put him under a lot of pressure and every time he had the football we made sure we didn't allow Melbourne to dictate terms to us. In those moments when we just took our foot off the pedal a little and went away from what we set out to do in a 10-minute period, they put 10 to 12 points on us. You just can't relax with Melbourne, it is just too good, too in sync, too clinical, too professional.

As well as trying to keep Smith and Cronk quiet, the Cowboys' biggest challenge will be to win the battle in the middle.


Michael Ennis  during the 2016 NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium.
Michael Ennis during the 2016 NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium. DAN HIMBRECHTS


For the Sharks last year, Andrew Fifita, Matt Prior, Paul Gallen and Chris Heighington were superb.

One thing the Cowboys have in their favour is they have got two guys who are among the form players of the competition in Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo. Their confidence is infectious on the rest of the group.

Paul Green has got them believing in their systems and therefore you have just got to bring your attitude and form and they have done that and they are willing to do that for each other for 80 minutes.

The only time the Cowboys will be vulnerable is when Taumalolo leaves the field for a rest in the middle of the game.

If they can put some scoreboard pressure on Melbourne in that opening 20-25 minutes and get in front, then I think when Taumalolo comes back into the game in the final 20-25 minutes, if they are in front, the Cowboys will be a huge chance of winning.

Having been in a grand final only two years ago is a big bonus for the Cowboys.

It has also been good for the Queenslanders that they have been playing virtual finals every week for the past month. It's good practice - you hear Craig Bellamy talk about it all the time - just practising good habits.

The games that the Cowboys have been in have been great practice for what's coming Sunday.

Melbourne is favourite especially when it has the three superstars Smith, Cronk and Billy Slater.

You know it is going to deliver on grand final night. The challenge for the Cowboys is being able to out-perform it.

For the record I believe the Storm will win in a close one by six or 10 points.

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