Newcastle have won three consecutive matches as they aim to avoid their third consecutive wooden spoon, but face a huge challenge this week in the form of table toppers Melbourne Storm. Now first against last always looks like a mismatch on paper but recent form suggests this will be a tougher match.

Both sides have won three on the trot and their stats have been very similar in their results. Both sides have made the same amount of errors (24) and line breaks (14). Nathan Brown’s side have made 554 runs, 19 more than Melbourne, and have ran 4959 metres, 76 more than the Storm.

Newcastle have shown more discipline conceding 17 penalties, five less than the competition leaders, they also made 1034 tackles, 97 more than the Storm.

Now let’s take a look at the players who have contributed to Newcastle’s form turnaround. Jamie Buhrer (108), Mitch Barnett (94), and Sione Mata’utia (82) have contributed to 284 of those tackles. While in comparison Melbourne’s Cam Smith has made 111 tackles, Dale Finucane has 90, and Joe Stimson has 78.

Ken Sio and Brock Lamb both made two line breaks in last week’s win against Parramatta. While Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr has made four by himself in the past three weeks.

Jacob Saifiti has led the way with 397 metres from 42 runs. Jesse Bromwich from Melbourne has ran 405 metres but has made two less runs. Dane Gagai has been impressive in his return to fullback making 56 runs for 512 metres. Billy Slater has only ran with the ball 35 times for 230 metres.

So the side’s placed 1st and 16th have had similar form in recent weeks but what is going to happen when the two teams go head-to-head this Saturday with Newcastle out to avoid three straight wooden spoons, and Melbourne gunning for two consecutive minor premierships.