Round 10 of the NRL Season kicks off on Thursday night when the high-flying Melbourne Storm play host to the Wests Tigers at AAMI Park.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Storm are coming into this game in sensational form. After going down to the Sharks two weeks ago, they are fresh off a huge 64-10 demolition of a helpless Eels side in Magic Round last week. They are almost certainties to back that performance up again this week playing at home.
The Tigers have had some inconsistent results of late, getting pummeled by the Roosters 42-12 two weeks ago, then following that up with an impressive 30-4 win over a very poor Panthers side last week. They will have a much tougher task getting a win in Melbourne this week.
The Storm have made a few changes to the side that secured their biggest win of the year last week. Injuries to Curtis Scott and Jahrome Hughes will see Ryan Papenhuyzen start at fullback, and Marion Seve return in the centres. Sandor Earl returns to the side on the bench in jersey 21.
The Storm are in third position on the ladder and will be looking for another win to get back in touch with the league-leading Rabbitohs and Roosters, who both sit two competition points ahead.
Storm squad: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Marion Seve 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 21. Sandor Earl. Reserves: 18. Billy Walters 19. Joe Stimson.
The Tigers have only made one change to last week’s winning team, with Josh Aloiai returning from a concussion to take his place on the bench. Young gun Oliver Clark is the man to drop out of the 17 after making an impressive debut.
The Tigers find themselves in sixth position and clinging onto a spot in the top eight. If they want to remain there they will need to find a way to upset the Strom at home again. Benji Marshall plays his 295th NRL game.
Tigers squad: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mahe Fonua 3. Robert Jennings 4. Esan Marsters 5. Corey Thompson 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Ben Matulino 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Chris McQueen 13. Matt Eisenhuth Interchange: 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Josh Aloiai 17. Michael Chee Kam. Reserves: 18. Paul Momirovski 19. Elijah Taylor.
HEAD TO HEAD
These two sides have not played each other yet this year, with their last meeting being back in round 5 last season. Head to head the Storm hold the advantage, winning 19 of the 31 total meetings between the sides. However, in a confidence boost for the Tigers they have won the last two games they have played against the Storm, both of which coming early last season and both by two points or less.
The battle of the 6’s, Cameron Munster vs Benji Marshall. These two players have both been in impeccable form of late. Look no further than last week in the Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium. Both of these players are quite often labeled ‘magicians’ and it’s easy to see why. Munster was purely dominant against the Eels, recording two tries, three try assists, two line breaks, three line break assists and seven tackle busts. A lot of focus will be on limiting the effect Cameron Smith has on the game, but if the Tigers fail to respect the skills of Munster, he will likely be able to put them to the sword just as he did to Parramatta.
Benji has only just returned from injury last week, but it’s clear the experience and leadership he brings to the Tigers had an immediate effect on their performance. He was back to his brilliant best against the Panthers, showing no signs of this age and was instrumental in setting up play and creating numerous attacking opportunities for the Tigers, especially in the early exchanges when the Tigers were able to score 20 points in 12 minutes.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 16th of May
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Adam Gee, Gavin Badger
WHO WILL WIN?
The last two meeting between these two teams have gone in favour of the Tigers, but both were won by two points or less, and both were extremely tough physical contests. Expect to see more of the same in this one, with Craig Bellamy and Michael Maguire both well known for their emphasis on tough defense. Both teams got some big wins last week, however the Storm have a much better chance of replicating that form and continuing their charge to the top of the ladder. Storm by 7.