The Melbourne Storm are going head to head with the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon in Auckland.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
New Zealand Warriors
As the team was going through a rocky patch, the odds were not in their favour when they came up against the Broncos last round especially since the Brisbane team were on a winning streak. The men in black shocked everyone with their 26-6 win over the Broncos and their stellar performance. The Warriors defence was tight as the Broncos only managed to cross the line once in the 75th minute. We often hear the saying “games are won by offloads” and the Warriors proved it to be true as they made a whopping 17 offloads and 7 line breaks which was a deadly combination for the Broncos who were run off their feet.
Melbourne Storm haven’t lost a game since round 14 which was coincidentally against the Broncos. However the team had a very close call against Manly Sea Eagles last Saturday as they secured the win with a penalty goal in the 71st minute. Although they took the 2 points, Storm had to fight their way back from an early 12-0 lead to Manly which proves you can never get too comfortable when playing the boys in purple.
New Zealand Warriors
Mason Lino is in for Blake Green, while Karl Lawton moves from the reserves to the bench. Bunty Afoa’s inclusion on an extended bench a week earlier than he was expected to be back from an elbow injury could see him come in for youngster Joseph Vuna.
Jahrome Hughes will play halfback in jersey No.18 with Brodie Croft out. Dale Finucane is tracking well in his recovery from a broken thumb and is expected to be on the plane to New Zealand and into Craig Bellamy’s side at the expense of Tui Kamikamica.
The Warriors are known to be a bogey team for Storm which is why it is always so hard to predict the outcome of a Storm vs Warriors showdown.
With the return of Munster and Slater, it means Storm have more attacking options than they had against Manly last weekend. If they can shutdown the Warriors big men and outplay Johnson and Lino then Storm should have no trouble taking the win.
Although you may think the Warriors have the advantage with the match taking place in Auckland it may turn out to be to the advantage of their opposition as the Warriors currently have a pitiful home record whereas the Storm have won their past 5 away games.
The Warriors currently lead the competition in offloads (223) while Storm have the highest amount of handling errors (83).
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Gerard Beale, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Mason Lino, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Isaiah Papali’i, 12 Simon Mannering, 13 Adam Blair interchange: 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Tevita Satae, 16 Joseph Vuna, 17 Karl Lawton reserves: 18 Bunty Afoa, 19 Anthony Gelling
Storm: 1 Billy Slater (c), 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Jahrome Hughes, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenneath Bromwich Interchange: 14 Tim Glasby, 15 Christian Welch, 16 Brandon Smith, 17 Joe Stimson Reserves: 18 Dale Finucane, 19 Cheyse Blair
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday July 22, 2018
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Kick-off: 4pm (NZT)
WHO WILL WIN?
The Warriors seem to have a knack for throwing Storm off their game, and with their poor home record I think they will give it their all to finally reward their loyal fans with a win on home soil.
Warriors by 12