James Cusack previews the match-up between Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Melbourne Storm.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Canterbury’s inconsistent form has made it difficult to get a gauge on them. Last weeks comeback win over the Titans was a season defining win to date though the real test comes this weekend as the second-placed Storm come to town.
Melbourne scored twice in the last 10 minutes against the Tigers last week to steal the victory and would be looking to consolidate their top four position against the Bulldogs Sunday afternoon.
Coach Dean Pay has made one change to the 17 that defeated the Titans last week with Christian Crichton replacing Jayden Okunbor.
Languishing in 14th placed the Bulldogs need to start winning multiple games in a row to have any chance to play finals.
Canterbury Bulldogs squad:
1. Nick Meaney 2. Christian Crichton 3. Marcelo Montoya 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Kieran Foran 7. Jack Cogger 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Chris Smith Interchange: 14. Rhyse Martin 15. Ofahiki Ogden 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Sauaso Sue Reserves: 19. Michael Lichaa 20. Lachlan Lewis 21. Kerrod Holland 23. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Christian Welch will be out for 4-6 with cartilage damage in his knee though can count himself lucky as it was initially diagnosed as an ACL injury.
Youngster Ryan Papenhuyzen goes back to the bench as Jahrome Hughes slots back to fullback after missing last week with concussion.
Melbourne Storm squad:
1. Jahrome Hughes 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. Joe Stimson 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen Reserves: 18. Justin Olam 19. Patrick Kaufusi 20. Tino Faasuamaleaui 21. Sandor Earl
HEAD TO HEAD
Bulldogs hold a slight edge in the head to head battle 21 to 19 though the Storm have won their past three encounters. These teams met in round four this season at AAMI Park with Melbourne winning 18-16 in a classic match where both teams played well.
The Storm have played three times at Belmore Sports Ground and have a 33% win rate where as the Bulldogs have a 45% win rate from 20 matches.
The battle of the five eighths will play a significant part in deciding who takes home the competition points as Kieran Foran lines up against Cameron Munster. Foran, who has just recently returned from injury has made five appearances this season scoring two tries and averaging 69.5 running metres a game. His combination with Jack Cogger is starting to gel and the team is performing better with Foran’s leadership on field and defence prowess proving to be vital.
On the other hand, Cameron Munster will make his 100th NRL appearance this Sunday. Munster has been exceptional this year leading the Dally M count after 10 rounds, scoring five tries and forcing drop outs most games. Munster, who is tipped to be named captain for the Maroons this Sunday when the teams are announced has taken his leadership to the next level at the Storm this season. Munster’s combination with Will Chambers and Josh Addo-Carr has been elite this year with Munster’s vision setting up Chambers last minute try last week to steal the victory. His battle with Foran will have an enormous influence in who wins this contest.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday May 26
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: Chris Sutton and Chris Butler
WHO WILL WIN?
Storm by 4