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2021 NRL Round Four Preview, Storm Vs Broncos

Matt Pritchard previews the Good Friday fixture between the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos to be played at AAMI Park. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: AAMI Park, Date: Friday, April 2nd, Time: 8:05pm (7:05pm QLD)

Storm Team

  1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
  2. George Jennings
  3. Reimis Smith
  4. Justin Olam
  5. Josh Addo-Carr
  6. Cameron Munster
  7. Jahrome Hughes
  8. Jesse Bromwich
  9. Brandon Smith
  10. Christian Welch
  11. Tom Eisenhuth
  12. Kenneath Bromwich
  13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
  14. Tyson Smoothy
  15. Tui Kamikamica
  16. Chris Lewis
  17. Darryn Schonig
  18. Aaron Pene
  19. Nicho Hynes
  20. Trent Loiero
  21. Dean Ieremia

Team Changes

IN: Aaron Pene, Dean Ieremia, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Trent Loiero
OUT: n/a

Broncos Team

  1. Jamayne Isaako
  2. Xavier Coates
  3. Herbie Farnworth
  4. Tesi Niu
  5. David Mead
  6. Anthony Milford
  7. Brodie Croft
  8. Matt Lodge
  9. Jake Turpin
  10. Payne Haas
  11. Alex Glenn
  12. Jordan Riki
  13. Patrick Carrigan
  14. John Asiata
  15. Thomas Flegler
  16. Tevita Pangai Junior
  17. Ben Te’o
  18. Tom Dearden
  19. Rhys Kennedy
  20. Richard Kennar
  21. Ethan Bullemor

Team Changes

IN: John Asiata, Matt Lodge, Payne Haas, Richard Kennar
OUT: n/a

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Storm

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Remarkably, at the end of Round 3, the Melbourne Storm (11th) sit one spot behind Brisbane on the competition ladder. This may be a little misleading, with the Storm facing three teams who played in the 2020 NRL Finals series, where Brisbane have just met the one top eight side in Parramatta.

They’ll be hurting from the loss in the grand final rematch to the Penrith Panthers last Thursday, where once again Melbourne’s vulnerability in closing out games in the post-Cam Smith era was exposed.

The return of Ryan Papenhuyzen, a drop in class from the previous three matches, and a disrupted COVID-19 preparation for the Broncos, will put Melbourne in the box seat to return to the winners circle.

Broncos

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Brisbane ended their history-breaking losing streak of 13 matches with victory over the side they last beat before their horrid run, the Canterbury Bulldogs, 24-0. Jamayne Isaako scored 12 points and Tom Dearden put pressure on Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford as he chases a run-on spot over the coming weeks.

They showed signs of competitiveness in their opening two matches before their breakout win. Their effort against the Eels to lead 16-0, and get run down in the second half, mirrored their Alex Glenn Testimonial game at Redcliffe where they led the Cowboys and were overrun in the final 40.

The Broncos’ past came back to haunt them against the Titans with a brace to David Fifita giving the Gold Coast side a good 28-16 win.

Matt Lodge and Payne Haas are back for the Broncos this week, with Kevin Walters naming them in the starting line-up.

PREVIEW

Melbourne will go into the Good Friday fixture hungry for success after back-to-back losses. The return of Ryan Papenhuyzen is a bonus for the Storm, with his influence on a game increasingly becoming a factor. The 2020 grand final (where he won the Clive Churchill Medal), and his performance in the 2021 opening night clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs are prime examples of this.

The Storm have worked on their edge defence after concerns that George Jennings and Reimis Smith were easy targets in the opening two rounds. Now the question is whether they can work on their execution and close out matches? Perhaps the Storm aren’t too far off being back to somewhere near their 2020 form?

Expect another significant performance by Cameron Munster after an excellent night out in a losing side against the Panthers last week.

Brisbane’s preparations suffered a blow earlier in the week after their city was placed into lockdown through COVID-19. We’ll learn early in the piece whether they’ve adapted to a temporary training base in Sydney, or struggle to fit into a bubble type situation – something they didn’t cope well with in 2020.

Uninspiring football won them the day against Canterbury last weekend. They may need to play more expansive this week given the points Melbourne have wracked up against the Broncos in recent outings. Walters has resisted making too many changes to his line-up so far in 2021, allowing his 17-man squad to stay relatively untouched.

Is this the week where things click and Jamayne Isaako, Anthony Milford, and Jake Turpin take the bull by the horns and really turn the heat on the Storm? Only time will tell.

KEY STAT

Melbourne look irresistible favourites to win given the recent history between the two sides. They’ve won the last eight in a row by an average of 22 points. In the past two encounters the Storm have won 40-4 and 46-8, with both Josh Addo-Carr and Kenny Bromwich scoring three tries across those victories.

PREDICTION

Recent form and home ground advantage lead to Melbourne taking out this encounter.

Storm by 20.

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