Don’t let the Melbourne Storm fool you. They are the favourites to win the NRL Telstra Premiership.
The Storm managed to go into the final series under the radar despite impressive wins against the Sharks, Cowboys and Broncos.
After a 24-2 loss against the Roosters a couple of months earlier. the Storm entered last Friday’s match against the minor premiers as underdogs.
Although the Roosters entered the game on the back of 12 straight wins, the Storm produced a marvellous defensive display which nullified the influence of star fullback Tuivasa-Sheck.
With Melbourne’s ability to control the ruck and slow the play the ball, they are able to restrict key opposition playmakers more effectively than any other team.
Whether the Cowboys or Sharks have to travel to Melbourne next week, the defensive style of Melbourne will be looking to break down their opponents attack. An extra week off means they should be able to outlast either side. A daunting task for either North Queensland or Cronulla.
With star representative players such as Smith, Cronk, Chambers and Jesse Bromwich, the Storm is an outfit to be feared. There is experience, class and youth.
Despite losing champion fullback Billy Slater to a season-ending injury midway through the year, his replacement Cameron Munster ran the most meters last Friday with 215m.
Last Friday night also proved that the team not only has defensive steel but can cope with further injuries. When Korobiete left the field, Bellamy moved second rower Tohu Harris to centre and moved Kurt Mann onto the wing and the team hardly looked disrupted.
If the Storm makes the Grand Final it could potentially be against the Broncos in a rematch of the 2006 Grand Final. That year an experienced Brisbane side beat a rookie Melbourne team to the title. This time around the roles would be reversed.
The kings of September are back, looking for another crown.