Matt Pritchard previews the Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers clash to be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday evening….. This is what we have to look forward to.
Melbourne Storm will wrap up a top two finish and host a final in week 1 with victory over Wests Tigers in this weekend’s Women In League Round. Unbeaten since their loss to Parramatta in Round 15, they comfortably led against North Queensland last weekend before conceding three tries in a twelve minute period, with the final score 36-20.
Following a remarkable come from behind win in Round 17, they couldn’t quite keep the final hopes alive last weekend in going down to South Sydney 26-24 at Bankwest Stadium. Wests Tigers have only recorded one win against a top eight side in 2020, coming in Round 3 against the Cronulla Sharks. Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence move one game closer to ending their time at the club.
Christian Welch comes straight back into the starting line-up after serving a one-match ban from Melbourne’s win over South Sydney in Round 17. Brandon Smith is named in jumper 18 as he returns from a broken jaw suffered last month against the Parramatta Eels.
1. Nicholas Hynes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Ryley Jacks 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Tui Kamikamica 18. Brandon Smith 19. Isaac Lumelume 20. Max King 21. Paul Momirovski.
Elijah Taylor and Jacob Liddle are out of the top seventeen after their side’s loss to South Sydney last weekend. With Luke Brooks suspended, Josh Reynolds will partner Benji Marshall in the halves. Tommy Talau is replaced by Joey Leilua in the centres.
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Sam McIntyre 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Zane Musgrove 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Russell Packer 17. Luke Garner 18. Tommy Talau 19. Michael Chee-Kam 20. Jock Madden 21. Jacob Liddle.
Melbourne Storm lead the head-to-head battle 20 wins to twelve. Interestingly the Tigers have won two of the last three, those coming in 2018. Cameron Smith will face the Tigers for the 24th time in his career, having scored 120 points along the way.
A key to victory is being inside the opposition’s twenty on the attack. While Melbourne rank strongly in 3rd (578 tackles), the Tigers are 15th ranked (464 tackles). Against a Storm side known for defending their line, it could be a tough night for the visitors to score points.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Cameron Smith vs Harry Grant
It’s the incumbent number nine, against the future number nine for the Melbourne Storm.
The wise head and controlling game of Cameron Smith with 426 games experience, against the fifteen game, youthful and cunning Harry Grant playing on his old Sunshine Coast Falcons stamping ground.
While Storm fans will be hoping Grant doesn’t have a huge say on the result, there will be an obsession with how he plays against the club who loaned him out earlier this year.
Grant won’t be afraid to scoot out of dummy half and has demonstrated how good he is close to the line, bursting through tackles.
Smith will dictate, direct play and show exactly why he’s the master. He leads his position in the most try assists this season.
Melbourne appear untouchable in the Sunshine State and as they continue to fine-tune for the upcoming finals series, will prove too good for the Wests Tigers.
Storm by 16
Date: Saturday September 19
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium