For the Melbourne Storm, the 2017 State of Origin period has been a case of “business as usual” coming through the last six weeks relatively unscathed and winning all but one game, a golden point loss to the Roosters. The up-and-comers have really done the job for Bellamy this season. As for Parramatta, they are chasing their first taste of the finals since 2009. An away win in Melbourne would definitely help their cause.

LAST TIME OUT

The Melbourne Storm were at their clinical best last week when they dismantled the Brisbane Broncos. The second half was especially one sided as the Cameron Smith led Storm pierced the Brisbane line almost at will. It was an ominous sign to those chasing the high-flying Storm side, and if they stay healthy, it will be difficult to see how anyone can stop them from running away with yet another premiership.

Compared to the Storm, Parramatta’s win against the struggling Bulldogs can only described as “doing it the hard way”. In fact, if you are a Bulldogs supporter, you would probably say it was a lucky win. Or worse. There was definitely more than a hint of controversy about the win but the Eels will take it, despite how it came along. However, after leading 12-2 at halftime, Parramatta should have gone on with it. Instead, they almost saw the game slip through their fingers.

 

KEY BATTLE

One of the reasons why the Storm have enjoyed success through the usually difficult Origin period has been the emergence of some of their younger players. One player of note is half Brodie Croft. The 19-year-old has impressed immensely and looks ready to fill the void when Cooper Cronk leaves at the end of the season. Considering this game may well be his final opportunity in the NRL for 2017, Croft will be looking to go out with a bang.

Parramatta half Corey Norman may consider himself unlucky to be overlooked for an Origin spot, but he will know that he will be seen as the key to Parramatta’s success if they are to make it into the finals in ten weeks’ time. Norman is capable of turning a match on its head, but the Eels need more out of him if they are to play in September. Coming up against an understrength Storm may be the right time to kick-start the “Corey Norman Show”.

 

PREDICTION

The Storm have shown that they have the depth to cover when their plethora of Origin stars are called upon. With the addition of Cameron Munster into the Queensland team for Game III, this depth will be tested even further. The Storm have an incredible six players participating in the decider whereas the Eels have zero. However, the young guns have more than done a job for Bellamy so far. They might just help him out one more time.

Storm by 4

 

SQUADS

Storm v Eels, Saturday 8 July, 7.30pm at AAMI Park

Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Curtis Scott 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Slade Griffin 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane 14. Kenneath Bromwich 15. Nate Myles 16. Mark Nicholls 17. Joe Stimson 18. Tui Kamikamica 19. Young Tonumaipea 20. Justin Olam 21. Robbie Rochow

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Bevan French 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 14. David Gower 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Will Smith 18. Siosaia Vave 19. Marata Niukore 20. Kirisome Auva’a 21. John Folau