Venue:AAMI Park Melbourne
Storm: 1 Cameron Munster 2 Marika Koroibete 3 Will Chambers 4 Kurt Mann 5 Matt Duffie 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith (c) 10 Tim Glasby 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Ryan Hinchcliffe Interchange 14 Kenny Bromwich 15 Dale Finucane 16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17 Jordan McLean 18 Christian Welch 19 Dayne Weston
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2 Kyle Feldt 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein 6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston (c) 8 Matthew Scott (c) 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange 14 Rory Kostjasyn 15 John Asiata 16 Scott Bolton 17 Ben Hannant 19 Ray Thompson
In what will be the final 80 minutes of rugby league in 2015 for one of these two sides, the North Queensland Cowboys will head down to AAMI park to meet the Melbourne Storm, with the winner going on to play in the premiership decider.
For the majority of the season, most people had the premiership race narrowed down to just three teams, the Roosters, Broncos, and Cowboys. However, the Storm have emerged as strong contenders to claim grand final glory in 2015, with an incredible past month that has seen them beat all three of the aforementioned teams. Following their grinding 20-18 shock victory against the Roosters in the first week of the finals series, the Storm have enjoyed a week off, and would have undoubtedly sat back and watched the Cowboys 39-0 dismantling of the Sharks last week.
The Cowboys saved their best game at home for their last, as they were unstoppable against the Cronulla side. On the back of Matt Scott’s barnstorming runs through the middle,North Queensland were able to utilise their wide array of potency in attack.
Scott’s incredible performance saw him rack up 182m, a line break, and 17 tackles. Scott has been touted as the best front-rower in the game, however he will come up against the man who is best equipped to challenge him for that accolade, New Zealand and Storm prop Jesse Bromwich, in what will be a mouthwatering battle.
Other individual match ups that could go a long way towards determining the winner of the match includes the battle of the Queensland halves pairing, Jonathan Thurston vs Cooper Cronk and the worlds best hooker Cameron Smith vs the up and coming live-wire Jake Granville.
The Cowboys side is unchanged from the one that thumped the Sharks last week. The Storm have named Marika Koroibete, however the flying Fijian is in doubt with an achilles injury suffered against the Roosters.
The Storm appear to hold the wood over the Cowboys, as the have won 20 of the 29 matches between the two. The Cowboys have struggled to win games in Melbourne in the past, with just 2 victories from 11 trips to the Victorian state.
These two sides are hard to split on form, however the Cowboys showed last week that they have what it takes to lift to the next level, in order to give their inspirational five-eight Jonathan Thurston the premiership victory he deserves.
Prediction Cowboys by 8