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2015 NRL Match Preview: Melbourne Storm vs New Zealand Warriors

Date: Monday, 6th April, 2015

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 5:00pm

Melbourne Storm 1. Billy Slater 2. Young Tonumaipea 3. William Chambers 4. Kurt Mann 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Blake Green 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 15. Tim Glasby 16. Dayne Weston 17. Felise Kaufusi 18. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 19. Hymel Hunt.

New Zealand Warriors Tuimoala Lolohea, Jonathan Wright, Ngani Laumape, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathan Friend, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Sione Lousi

Preview

The Melbourne Storm will host the New Zealand Warriors on Easter Monday, as both teams aim to bounce back from last round losses in the AAMI Park clash.

The Storm looked to be cruising to victory over the struggling Cowboys, before a late flurry or North Queensland tries and Jonathon Thurston field goals consigned them to a golden point loss. It is a dangerous sign for the Warriors, with coach Craig Bellamy certain to be firing up his troops to make amends for letting the game slip away.

The Warriors were off their game last week, making a truckload of errors to give the Broncos a 16-nil lead before threatening a comeback against the Brisbane side. They will be feeling positive about the road trip to AAMI park, having won 3 games out of five at the ground. While many teams fear the trip to Melbourne, it is one the Warriors are good at making successfully.

This road trip has been made harder for the New Zealand side however, due to their loss of utility Ben Henry, who will miss the rest of the 2015 season with a knee injury sustained against Brisbane. After a quiet start to the season, Shaun Johnson seemed to awake in the second half last weekend, and will again need to fire in round 5. His halves partner Chad Townsend has been outshining Johnson so far, and the Kiwi number seven must step up for his team to get back in to the winners circle.

And while he seemed to warm to the task last week, a couple of wayward passes, one over the sideline and one to no man’s land, showed that Johnson is still a long way from his Golden boot winning performances of late last year. The Storm will be hoping he doesn’t find his groove this week.

The Melbourne team is unchanged for the encounter. While the powers of the big three are unquestionable still, the key for the Storm is their forwards muscling up against the metre making machines that are the New Zealanders. If the Storm forwards can hold the middle, the skills of Cooper Cronk can come to the fore. His ability to look long before throwing a short ball is second to none in the game, so the Warriors will want to be wary of this when defending their line, or around the ruck area.

Expect a tight encounter between the two sides. The Warriors seem to have more mistakes in them at the moment, and until they can fix their handling, they will struggle in the close contests. They will be working hard on that this week, but a desperate Melbourne side will be there to pick up the scraps if they fail to clean up their act.

Prediction

Melbourne by 7

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