The two in-form teams of the Telstra Premiership clash on Monday Night Football as the league’s best defence meets the league’s best attacking. No matter who you support this is a match-up not to be missed as we get an early taste of Finals Football.
LAST TIME OUT
The Melbourne Storm used their get out of jail free card against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park. The Storm were out-hustled and out played for the vast majority of 80 minutes before a last second penalty goal allowed the Storm to push the match into Golden Point. From there the genius of Cameron Smith prevailed and the Storm ran out 1 point winners thanks to an 84th minute field goal from the future immortal.
The Canberra Raiders travelled to Shark Park to take on the NRL’s hottest team. The Canberra side put in another attacking master class and out played the Sharks with some expansive play and stern defence when it mattered most. The 30 – 14 win announced the Green Machine as genuine title contenders and cemented their spot in the Top 4 for another week.
Josh Hodgson v Cameron Smith: Not only is this a match-up of two of the NRL’s top teams it is also a clash of the two top Hookers in the world. Josh Hodgson started 2016 in red hot form before cooling off somewhat in the middle of the season. In the last month his form has returned to help lead the Raiders on their charge up the table. Cameron Smith has had a brilliant season and will be looking to cap it off with another Melbourne Storm Premiership. In a year where many tipped Smith to slow down somewhat he has been in career best form and looks to be at the top of his game.
Both of these players are strong defenders but it is their vision and understanding of the game that allows them to stand head and shoulder above the competition, particularly in 2016. This will be an exciting duel between the two dummy halves as it is not often you have two players at the top of their game clash so closely in an NRL match, often players are separated on different sides of the field.
Teams normally dread the trip to Canberra to face the Green Machine in a night match, but the Melbourne Storm have an impressive record in the Nationals Capital having won 4 of the last 6 matches in Canberra. This clash brings together the league’s best attacking team in Canberra (who are averaging 27 points per match) against the best defensive side in the Storm who only allows a stingy 11 points per match. Historically a strong defensive unit will trump an attacking force.
Both teams come into this match off the back of emotional wins in their last match with the Storm’s thrilling comeback victory over Souths and the Raiders de-throning the rampant Sharks at Cronulla, both matches last Saturday afternoon. This can often have an effect on teams the following week.
This looms to be one of the more entertaining matches of the season with two of the in-form teams. Playing on their home ground the Canberra Raiders look to have too many points in them for the Melbourne Storm on Monday night Football and will get home in a closely fought match by 6 points.
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm, GIO Stadium, 7pm (AEST) Monday
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Brenko Lee 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Josep. Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Junior Paulo 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Iosia Soliola Interchange: 14 Adam Clydesdale 15 Luke Bateman 16 Clay Priest 17 Joseph Tapine
Storm: 1. Cameron Munster 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Blake Green 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tim Glasby 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Kenneath Bromwich 15. Christian Welch 16. Felise Kaufusi 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona