2015 NRL Match Preview: New Zealand Warriors vs Melbourne Storm

Date: Sunday July 12, 2015

Venue: Mount Smart Stadium

Kick-Off: 4pm NZT

Warriors 1 Sam Tomkins, 2 Tuimoala Lolohea, 3 Konrad Hurrell, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Chad Townsend, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Jacob Lillyman, 9 Nathan Friend, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: 14 Siliva Havili, 15 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 16 Charlie Gubb, 17 Albert Vete, 18 David Fusitu’a

Storm 1 Cameron Munster 2 Marika Koroibete 3 Will Chambers 4 Hymel Hunt 5 Richard Kennar 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith (c) 10 Tim Glasby 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Ryan Hinchcliffe 15 Kenny Bromwich 16 Ben Hampton 17 Felise Kaufusi


New Zealand Warriors will be looking to consolidate a spot in the National Rugby League top eight when they host Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday.

They have Ryan Hoffman and Konrad Hurrell in doubt for the sold out clash in Auckland.  Hoffman struggled with a calf problem and is unlikely to play while Hurrell has a shoulder problem.  Fusitu’a is the eighteenth man to cover for the big centre.

Despite being traditionally ‘hot and cold’, the Warriors have found the missing components to their game over the past couple of weeks.  They finished off a poor Gold Coast Titans at Robina and trounced Canberra in their last start.  The simple formula of completion rates and playing a full eighty minutes is putting fear into other teams as we head into the final part of the season.

Melbourne on the other hand are feeling the pressure after dropping four of their past five matches.  Their latest loss against the red-hot Bulldogs in front of a full house at Belmore was uncharacteristic of what we’ve come used to with the Storm outfit over the last decade.  With four points separating third and eleventh, a loss could have a temporary impact on the Storm who have a reasonable run to the finals.

Queensland Origin players Cooper Cronk, Will Chambers and captain Cameron Smith are expected to play.  With this game expected to be a physical encounter, don’t be surprised if utility Ben Hampton travels with the side but sits in the stands to make way for another forward.  With the spotlight on Smith during the week it will be interesting to see how he copes with club footy compared to the emotion and hype surrounding Origin.

These sides boast plenty of quality.  Solomone Kata has burst onto the scene and is equal on eleven tries with the ‘Beast’ Manu Vatuvei as Warriors top try scorer this year.  Ben Matulino could be the difference between the two sides with his great ball skills and ability to offload.  For Melbourne with such an inexperienced back five, Will Chambers will need to carry his Origin form over and produce a big game.  Up front Jesse Bromwich’s battle with Jacob Lillyman is one of several eagerly anticipated match-ups.

Both sides have won eight matches when they’ve faced each other at Mount Smart.  Most recently the Warriors were too good for the Storm 30-22 when they last met in 2013.

Prediction New Zealand Warriors slightly ahead in attacking power out wide despite concerns over Hurrell’s fitness. Warriors by 8

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