Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
AAMI Park, 7:45pm.
Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Beau Champion, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Sika Manu, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Rory Kostjaysen, Adam Woolnough, Jaiman Lowe, Troy Thompson, Sisa Waqa, Maurice Blair, Atelea Vea.
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Krisnan Inu, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Lance Hohaia, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Steve Rapira
IF THE MELBOURNE STORM HAS A BOGY SIDE then it’s definitely the New Zealand Warriors. The Warriors defied the odds earlier in the season and defeated the Storm in Melbourne at AAMI Park and have beaten them 4 times in the last 8 encounters.
Many fans are riding the high that the Warriors are on but I’m not so sure they can back it up after a bruising clash with the Tigers last week. As much as it will disgust Warriors supporters, I’m not expecting them to give the Storm much trouble in this one. If they make some of the same mistakes as they did last week then I don’t think the Storm will be as forgiving. If the Warriors can shore up their weaknesses in defence and keep the Storm out for as long as possible, then I’d love to see them throw the ball around a bit in attack, and as early as possible. But if they are going to let in soft tries in the first half then they can forget any ideas of a second half comeback. The Storm just won’t allow it.
CHANCE OF WINNING:
Storm 70%, Warriors 28%
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Manu Vatuvei turned his bad game in week 1 of the finals into a pearler in week 2. His kick returns were huge in all respects and he took a lot of load off his forwards in the early parts of attacking sets.
Kevin Locke is another player that impressed me last week and his defence of high balls is a massive bonus for the side. I’ll find it extremely interesting if he comes face to face with Billy Slater at any stage of the match.
Cooper Cronk was instrumental in the Storm’s victory over the Knights in week one of the finals as he steered the side around the field seamlessly. Never one to crack under finals pressure, he will be the man that the Warriors need to shut down if they are to have any chance of stopping tries.
I’m tipping a Storm win but I’m not at all content with the head to head odds and will be taking the Storm to win by 6 or more. A lot of people seem to have jumped off the Storm bandwagon since they suffered two losses at the end of the season. I think tonight they will re-establish themselves with a dominant win and if you’re looking for something more than the best bet, don’t be afraid the back the boys from Melbourne 13+. The Warriors rarely win back to back away games.
Mike’s Best Bet: Mike’s Best Bet: $125 on the Storm -5.5 @ $1.85 (Centrebet)
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2722.94
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)