Last years premiers Melbourne Storm once again host the New Zealand Warriors for the ANZAC night match at AAMI Park.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
A slippery surface with Brisbane side looking to get back-to-back wins for the first time faced the Storm. Melbourne was able to exploit the weak edge defence of the Broncos early to win convincingly 34-20.
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors faced with a few players out were tasked with stopping a Dragons team yet to see defeat. A late comeback by the Dragons wasn’t enough to beat a fast-starting New Zealand team winning 20-12.
Melbourne will be without forward Jesse Bromwich due to a knee injury allowing Tim Glasby to move to prop. Kenny Bromwich starts at lock while Joe Stimson joins the interchange.
Tohu Harris has been ruled out after a heavy concussion last round. Shaun Johnson with a groin injury is left out of the side, Solomone Kata out as well.
This ANZAC clash has been one-sided for the majority of its time, with Melbourne only having lost one of the last seven held at AAMI Park against the Warriors. In 2018 the New Zealand side has only lost one match and is looking increasingly better as the weeks progress, the Storm will arguably have their hardest meeting against Warriors in the last few seasons. The key battle will be between the two outstanding hookers in Cameron Smith and Issac Luke looking to exploit one another’s weakness and win this memorable match.
Cameron Smith since the changes to the Storm side has had to be more involved in last tackle plays and getting the right service to his young halves to have the best opportunities to put on plays without pressure. Smith’s defence has been tested greatly with the rake having an average of 40 tackles producing 94% tackle efficiency over the first seven rounds. The match-up between himself and Luke will be down to his work in defence with the opening 20 minutes being Warriors best and Issac Luke splitting the middle of the defence dummy half running, Smith will need to minimise the run metres of the forwards throughout the game.
After their most impressive win to date, the New Zealand hooker Issac Luke was a focal point in winning. The changes to the Warriors roster has freed up Luke and allowed him to perform his natural risky play style around the middle third, not only is the pressure off the hooker he has averaged 101 run metres including 13 offloads. The major factor that the in-form rake will need to bring to the clash against Melbourne is his ability to tackle bust through a tiring defence, if Luke can do this against Smith and tire the other forwards of the Storm it will go a long way to his side winning.
Prediction: Storm by 6
Warriors last beat the Storm in 2015 and have only won 1 of 7 ANZAC matches held at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Tim Glasby, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenny Bromwich
Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 16 Sam Kasiano, 17 Joe Stimson
New Zealand Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C), 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Anthony Gelling, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Mason Lino, 8 Bunty Afoa, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Simon Mannering, 12 Isaiah Papali’I, 13 Adam Blair.
Interchange: 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Albert Vete, 17 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Wednesday 25th April
Venue: AAMI Park
WHO WILL WIN?