Date: Friday 5th September, 2014
Venue: AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, William Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Marika Koroibete, Ben Roberts, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Tim Glasby, Tohu Harris, Dayne Weston, Jordan McLean, Junior Moors, Justin O’Neill
Brisbane Broncos: Justin Hodges, Daniel Vidot, Jack Reed, Dale Copley, Lachlan Maranta, Ben Barba, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday. Interchange: Jarrod Wallace, Martin Kennedy, Ben Hannant, Corey Oates, Todd Lowrie
The Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos will fight out for a place in the finals in their round 26 NRL clash at AAMI Park on Friday night.
While Melbourne have performed solidly in 2014, they have failed to reach the lofty standards they have set in the recent past. For the Brisbane side, they have looked far more likely than recent seasons, however have still struggled to reach the standards of the top tier sides.
A loss doesn’t neccesarily knock the Storm out of the finals, but it puts their chances on a knifes edge, as they would have to wait for other results to see their fate. For Brisbane, the situation is a little more urgent, a loss would likely see them slip out of the eight, with the Eels likely to bag a win that would see them leap into eighth.
A trip to Melbourne is always a difficult one, and with the Storm side full of big game players, namely Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, the assignment to crawl in to the final eight looks beyond the Broncos.
Recent history highlights the mammoth proportions of the task for the visitors, who have lost to their hosts in seven straight NRL fixtures.
Add to this the loss of key forward Sam Thaiday to suspension, and the ask becomes too much for a Brisbane side, who have improved in 2014, but still have a long way to go to really be in the mix.
While the Storm are coming off a loss to the Roosters last week, it was a game they could have won, and looked to be in control of until the last part of the game. The Brisbane side have won two on the trot, but the caliber of opposition they faced then are not up to the standard of the Storm side.
Melbourne will continue their dominance in recent NRL history by making another finals campaign, knocking the Brisbane side out along the way.
Melbourne by 12