Already enduring one of their poorest seasons in years, the Sydney Roosters nightmare of a run home continues facing one of the competition heavyweights in the Melbourne Storm. With Origin done and dusted with, the Storm will be out to put the Roosters to the sword and continue on their way to guarantee a Top 2 finish to the end of the regular season.

Last Time Out

The Melbourne Storm had a close encounter with the lowly Knights who have had the habit of causing them some difficulties in recent times. The Storm put in a somewhat lazy performance that didn’t give respect to their opposition and the Knights almost made them pay for it. However despite an enthusiastic and energized performance from the Novocastrians it wasn’t enough to come away with the win in the end as the Storm narrowly prevailed 20-16 which was the same margin they had won by earlier in the year. A strong performance from Marika Koroibiete made the difference in the end, scoring two vital tries including a long range effort against the run of play after an error from the Knights.

The Sydney Roosters put in a spirited effort but as has been the story of their season, they came up short and lacked the ability to really take control of the game. Debatable decisions from the bunker aside that saw Daniel Tupou denied a try for a 50/50 call on whether his hand still maintained control of the ball on a grounding, the Roosters came to within 6 points of the Sharks. An error in the final minute chasing points led to a runaway try from Sosaia Feki blowing the score out to 32-20 in a match where the Roosters were highly competitive. Fans will cry poor about bad officiating decisions but the Chooks simple handling errors and reads in defence is what ultimately cost them.

Key Battle

The defensive resolve of the Roosters backs against the might of the Storm’s attack. While the Roosters forwards can take their fair share of the blame for not winning the battle in the middle and denying the opposition the field position in many a game, it’s their edge defence that has let them down massively this year. Blake Ferguson’s habit of rushing out of the line forcing his wing partner to come in leaving a gap wide open has let in a fair few tries while Daniel Tupou has had his defensive struggles with Michael Jennings no longer next to him. They’re not going to magically resolve their issues in a week but a focus on better communication and talk in defence is the only thing that can win them this game. Latrell Mitchell is going to have to step up too as he can expect to receive a lot of attention from Cooper Cronk who will look to exploit Mitchell’s inexperience and defensive positioning on the goal-line.

Last time these two teams faced off in Round 14 Cameron Munster ran absolute riot and try-scoring whiz Suliasi Vunivalu crossed for a hat-trick. Unless the Roosters backs aim up and make better reads in defence and show more urgency it’ll be déjà vu of that game where they went down 46-0.

Prediction

Melbourne struggled against the Knights last week so there is the chance an upset is on the cards if complacency creeps in again. However the Knights had been the Storm’s bogey team as of late and despite an improving effort week after week the Roosters are completely outclassed here. Storm by 18+

Squads
Melbourne Storm
1 Cameron Munster
2 Suliasi Vunivalu
3 Will Chambers
4 Cheyse Blair
5 Marika Koroibete
6 Blake Green
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Cameron Smith ©
10 Felise Kaufusi
11 Kevin Proctor
12 Tohu Harris
13 Dale Finucane
Interchange:
14 Kenny Bromwich
15 Christian Welch
16 Matt White
17 Young Tonumaipea*

* Tim Glasby is on track to return from injury and will replace Tonumaipea on the bench if fit. However Korobiete is in doubt with an injury and Tonumaipea would presumably replace him if ruled out.

Sydney Roosters
1 Latrell Mitchell
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Dale Copley
4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
5 Blake Ferguson
6 Connor Watson
7 Mitchell Pearce
8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9 Jake Friend ©
10 Dylan Napa
11 Boyd Cordner
12 Mitchell Aubusson
13 Sio Siua Taukeiaho
Interchange:
14 Sam Moa
15 Isaac Liu
16 Aidan Guerra
17 Ryan Matterson
18 Kane Evans