After both starting their seasons with strong victories, the West Tigers and Melbourne Storm will be looking to carry on their form into round 2. The Tigers recorded a surprise upset against the Roosters, and if they can shock the Storm on Saturday they will have knocked off arguably the top 2 teams in the competition.
For Billy Slater, it’s game 300 in the National Rugby League and it would be a fitting victory for the Queensland great to celebrate the milestone.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Storm started the season in typical Melbourne fashion, picking up right where they left off in the 2017 grand final. Cameron Munster was superb against the Bulldogs, using his individual brilliance to tear the Dogs defence apart. Craig Bellamy will be disappointed that the Bulldogs were able to mount a bit of a comeback, however a Josh Addo-Carr intercept put the game to bed.
The Tigers pulled off undoubtedly the biggest upset of Round 1 with their win over the Roosters, suggesting that they may perform better in 2018 than people expect of them. Ivan Cleary is a good coach and his influence on the team could be seen in their tenacity and effort throughout the whole 80 minutes. Benji Marshall had an impressive return for the Tigers, providing a spark off the bench.
Felise Kafusi will miss the match with a hamstring injury, which brings Kenny Bromwich into the starting team. Billy Slater is back for his 300th game, which puts Cameron Munster back at 5/8, and Ryley Jacks out of the side.
Last weeks hero Tuimoala Lolohea has been pulled from the game with a hamstring injury, which means David Nofoaluma will return to the side at fullback.
Billy Slater starts his 2018 campaign by reaching a huge milestone of 300 games, which is bad news for the Tigers as the Storm have a great success rate when one of their players has a milestone game. Slater’s return pushes Cameron Munster back to 5/8, and it will be interesting to see how well he performs there, as he is the leading contender for the QLD number 6 jersey. Having Munster in the halves will take a lot of pressure off rookie Brodie Croft, and the young halfback may shine if he is given any time to move by the Tigers defence.
Tui Lolohea is a big loss for the Tigers, as he would be feeling confident and in form after nailing the game winner last week against heavyweights the Roosters. The Tigers forward pack will need to have a huge game if their team is to win, and they must contain the Storm duo of Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona. One advantage the Tigers have is Benji Marshall’s experience over the Storm’s halves duo. If Marshall can provide some spark and the Tigers defence contains Munster, the Tigers will have a much higher chance of winning.
The Tigers did a tremendous job to upset the Roosters last week, however it’s a lot less likely that Craig Bellamy’s side will be caught off guard like the Roosters were. The Tigers should put up a good fight in the first half, however the finesse and star power of the Storm will be too much for the Tigers.
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14 Tim Glasby, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Christian Welch, 20 Sam Kasiano
Tigers: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea, 2. Corey Thompson, 3. Esan Nike Marsters, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Russell Packer (c), 9. Pita Godinet, 10. Ben Matulino, 11. Chris Lawrence, 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Elijah Taylor.
Interchange: 14. Matt McIlwrick, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Michael Chee-Kam, 17. Matt Eisenhuth,
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 17th of March
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 7:35 AEDT
WHO WILL WIN?