After their close encounter on Anzac day, The New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm clash once again, this time in New Zealand with the Warriors needing a victory over the table-topping Storm to keep their season alive.
Team Form Guide
New Zealand Warriors
Round 12 was the Warriors bye round, and they needed it after their gruelling round 11 8-2 defeat to the Broncos. The Warriors were defensively strong but could not find a way past the Broncos solid line often looking lost with the ball in hand.
They will need to bring the same defensive intensity to this match but also will need to rediscover their offence if they are to have a shot on Saturday afternoon.
The Storm also enjoyed a bye last week but were their clinical selves in round 11 defeating the Bulldogs 28-6.
The Storm killed the Bulldogs momentum and never let them get out of first gear allowing them to test the Bulldogs line at will.
The Storm will need more of the same this week but will have to overcome a disrupted week due to State of Origin.
New Zealand Warriors
Agnatius Paasi returns to the starting line up after his suspension, Adam Blair moves into lock for his 299th game sending Lachlan Burr to the bench joining Chris Satae who has taken injured Jazz Tevaga’s spot.
New Zealand Warriors 21-Man Squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Isaiah Papali’i, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Adam Blair, 14. Lachlan Burr, 15. Bunty Afoa, 16. Chris Satae, 17. Karl Lawton, 18. Gerard Beale, 20. Leivaha Pulu, 21. Jackson Frei, 22. Chanel Harris-Tavita
No changes for the Storm with all their State of Origin players being named to start pending how they fare in the first Origin clash of the year.
Melbourne Storm 21-Man 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, 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Joe Stimson, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 18. Justin Olam, 19. Patrick Kaufusi, 20. Albert Vete, 21. Sandor Earl
Head to Head
Played: 43, Storm 25, Warriors 16, 2 Drawn
Latest Result: Storm 13-12, Round 7 2019
There are several mouth-watering matchups in this contest, but the key battle will be between Kodi Nikorima and Cameron Munster.
Nikorima has added a spark to the Warriors since his signing, his pace and ability to spot gaps in the defensive line are vital in the Warriors chances of victory and his side will be relying on him to reinvigorate their stagnant offence.
Munster has been strong for the Storm for the past month after a slightly rocky start to the season, he has settled into running this side alongside Cameron Smith, and they are a dangerous combination. Munster’s running game is dangerous, but his kicking game could be what makes the difference in this clash with the Warriors susceptible to tries scored by kicks.
Expect to see both players contribute plenty of scoring opportunities for their lethal backlines.
The Important Details
Date: Saturday, June 8
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (local)
Who will win?
Losing to the Storm by only one point on Anzac Day will boost the Warriors confidence for this encounter, but they will need to get momentum early one. The return of Paasi will help the Warriors combat the large Storm pack.
When the Warriors play off the cuff, they can unsettle the structured Storm so second phase football is a necessity for the Warriors to get the upper hand.
The Storm needs to do what they do best, slow the ruck, get the Warriors on the back foot and then pin the Warriors deep in their half. If the Storm does that they can tire the Warriors out and points will come.
I see the Storm being too strong for the Warriors here. Providing they have all their Origin stars fit and healthy the Storm will be the same consistent machine they always are keeping their spot at the top of the ladder.
Storm by 12