The Storm are 2 from 2 and the Warriors are 0 from 2. The Warriors will be looking to give their fans something to cheer about and for their new recruits to fire for them to make up for a signature disappointing start to the season.
Melbourne have lost Billy Slater for the year after his troublesome shoulder injury flared up after the Dragons game and will be out for 6-8 months with his exceptional replacement in Cameron Munster ready to step in once again. They didn’t miss a beat with Slater out last year and will be out to keep the momentum rolling with a third straight win.

LAST TIME OUT

The Warriors were outclassed by Brisbane 25-10 showing an improved effort defensively but they lacked the ability to stay composed and apply pressure. Many kicks into the in-goal went dead and they gave away 8 penalties. Their attack was also predictable at times with a lot of sideways movement and trying to get around their edges instead of engaging them up the middle and were unable to crack the Brisbane defence. However the Warriors did do an admirable job to play on with only two fit men on the bench for most of the 2nd half and only concede two tries after losing Blake Ayshford to concussion in the first half and Manu Vatuvei early in the second.

The Storm went tit for tat with the Titans in early proceedings before going onto dominate in the 2nd half and put in their typical clinical performance on their way to a comfortable 36-14 victory. They trailed the Titans for a 15 minute period in the first half, following on from their sluggish start to the Dragons game but in typical Melbourne fashion, weathered the storm and piled on the points when the Titans let their energy levels dip. The backs ran rampant for the Storm with Will Chambers the standout scoring two tries and running for 166m.

KEY BATTLES

The Warriors Kiwi trio vs the Storm’s big 3. Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were expected to be the signings that would finally lead the Warriors to premiership glory but so far they’ve been less than stellar and Johnson was kept very quiet last week only running the ball a total of once. They’ll need to step it up big time to match the Storm and get the victory for their team. Johnson must demand the ball more and Luke has to get the team’s momentum rolling off the back of quick play the balls and using his running game to make valuable metres. RTS has managed to run for 200m in both games played so far but should be looking to show up more in support play, being in positions for offload and linking up with Johnson. They’ll need to establish a fast pace and maintain it to prevent the Storm from slowing the game down and playing the match on their terms.

The Storm’s trio will be out to nullify the effectiveness of the Warriors key players and take ownership of the game. Cameron Smith controls the game out of dummy half like nobody else and Cooper Cronk’s pinpoint kicking game will be needed to halt the momentum of the Warriors when they start to get on a roll. Munster may not be one of the big 3 but with the form he has shown at fullback he may as well be made an honorary member. A very strong runner of the ball who if given an inch of space will slice through the defence, the Warriors will need to work on limiting his influence on the match.

PREDICTION

This is a tough match to call. The Warriors will be hyped to play their first home game of the season at Mt Smart and always seem to lift their game up against the Storm, who can sometimes struggle against the less structured sides like the Warriors and Raiders because of their off the cuff, free-flowing style of footy negating their grinding, wrestle heavy tactics. However the Storm come into the game in much better form with the Warriors currently on a 10 match losing streak since Round 19 last year.
If Johnson and RTS are switched on and firing the Warriors should be able to break their losing streak and come away with the win but nothing’s for certain with the Warriors after all. Regardless out of the outcome I expect it to be a high scoring match that’ll be decided by a small margin. Warriors by 4.

Squads

New Zealand Warriors

1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2 Tuimoala Lolohea
3 Blake Ayshford
4 Solomone Kata
5 Manu Vatuvei
6 Shaun Johnson
7 Jeff Robson
8 Jacob Lillyman
9 Issac Luke
10 Ben Matulino
11 Bodene Thompson
12 Ryan Hoffman (c)
13 Simon Mannering
Interchange:
14 Nathaniel Roache
15 Charlie Gubb
16 James Gavet
17 Albert Vete
18 John Palavi
21 Jonathan Wright
23 Konrad Hurell

Melbourne Storm

1 Cameron Munster
2 Young Tonumaipea
3 Will Chambers
4 Curtis Scott
5 Marika Koroibete
6 Blake Green
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Cameron Smith (c)
10 Jordan McLean
11 Kevin Proctor
12 Tohu Harris
13 Dale Finucane
Interchange
14 Kenny Bromwich
15 Tim Glasby
16 Felise Kaufusi
17 Ben Hampton