The New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm will go head to head on Friday at Mount Smart Stadium. Both teams won against their opponent in round 1 of the NRL 2017 season and will be looking to carry their success through to round 2.

Last time out

The Warriors started off slow in round 1 against the Newcastle Knights which allowed the visitors to dominate the game for the first twenty minutes. The Warriors soon got their mojo back and ended halftime with a 20-8 lead. Unfortunately the Warriors slipped into old habits by becoming too comfortable with their lead and allowed the Knights to score three tries which saw them trail 22-20. Although the Warriors came out on top with a final score of 26-22, the Knights made it a tough battle from beginning to end.

Melbourne Storm began their season with a 12-6 win against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Storm started strong in the first 20 minutes of the game by scoring two tries and two conversions which was the last of the points they secured throughout the game. Although the Bulldogs had 53% of overall possession throughout the game, Storm’s defence proved too strong for the Bulldogs who only managed to score one try by Josh Reynolds in the 29th minute. The Bulldogs had majority of possession in the second half but their attack was no match for Storms solid display of defence.

Key Battle

The key battle on Friday is going to be between the right edge attack of the Warrior’s side which consists of David Fusitua and Tuimoala Lolohea and Storm’s left-side combination of Cheyse Blair and Josh Addo-Carr. The Warrior’s pair are a threat to any team due to Fusitu’a’s power and speed and Lolohea’s skill set that matches up with those of a halfback. The two were extremely successful last Sunday as Fusitua scored tries tries in the space of thirteen minutes while Lolohea assisted a try with an impressive aerial catch and pass. If these two play to the same strengths as they did in round one, they will cut holes in Blair and Addo-Carr’s defense who struggled in round 1 and missed a total of seven tackles between them.

Prediction

Although Melbourne Storm will be vulnerable in the forwards without their Kiwi-representative forwards Tohu Harris and Jesse Bromwich due to injuries, I believe they will still play top quality football as they did last week and will only continue to improve. The Warriors only just hung onto their lead over the Newcastle Knights in round one, but Storm is going to prove to be a much tougher rival. If Storm manage to keep it together without their forwards, they will secure their second win for the season.

Storm by 10

Squads

New Zealand Warriors vs Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium Auckland, 8.00pm (NZT) Friday

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Tuimoala Lolohea 3. David Fusitua 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Mafoa’aeata Hingano 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Albert Vete 9. Issac Luke 10. Charlie Gubb 11. Bunty Afoa 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering 14. Erin Clark 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Sam Lisone 17. Bodene Thompson 18. Isaiah Papalii 20. James Gavet 21. Manu Vatuvei 22. Mason Lino

Storm: 1. Cameron Munster 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Tim Glasby 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Christian Welch 15. Joe Stimson 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Young Tonumaipea 18. Brodie Croft 19. Vincent Leuluai 20. Mark Nicholls 21. Curtis Scott