Andrew Pelechaty previews the Round 12 opener between Melbourne and Manly Warringah …
Melbourne Storm Vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Date: Thursday May 26, 7:50pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Dean Ieremia 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tyran Wishart 16. Trent Loiero 18. Chris Lewis 20. Jordan Grant 21. Tom Eisenhuth
Jahrome Hughes returns to the halves, Harry Grant goes back to hooker, and Brandon Smith is off the bench.Embed from Getty Images
Sea Eagles: 1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Morgan Harper 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Toafofoa Sipley 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Andrew Davey 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Schuster 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Sean Keppie 18. Kurt De Luis 19. Jason Saab 20. Kaeo Weekes 21. Viliami Fifita 22. Alec Tuitavake 23. Jamie Humphreys 24. Jacob Sykes
Reuben Garrick is back at fullback. Jorge Taufua is named for his first NRL game since round 17, 2020. Martin Taupau is out with Ethan Bullemor the new man on the interchange bench.
Referee: Adam Gee
The next chapter of this at-times spicy rivalry comes at a crossroads for both sides.
After playing seemingly untouchable footy in the first nine rounds, Melbourne have since lost two in a row, which would’ve greatly upset the handful of Victorians who stopped watching their beloved Aussie Rules for long enough to briefly glance at the NRL scores.
On a more serious note, Melbourne have conceded 68 points in these two losses (32-6 to Penrith and 36-6 to North Queensland) which is alarming considering they’d only averaged 12 points against in the previous nine games.
While Melbourne are still second, they’re four points adrift of first-placed Penrith and have the third-placed North Queensland nipping at their heels like a playful puppy.
As for Manly Warringah, they’re in a much deeper hole. They’ve lost their last two games (38-0 to Brisbane and 22-20 to Parramatta) and, more importantly, lost Tom Trbojevic to a season-ending shoulder injury.
While the ”no Turbo, no Manly” brigade will be quickly writing their premiership hopes off, it’s up to the Sea Eagles to prove them wrong. They’re in a scrum of four teams (including South Sydney, Canberra, and St George Illawarra) in equal eighth, and a win over Melbourne could see them escape the pack, at least temporarily.
No doubt Craig Bellamy will be furious with Melbourne dropping their usually high standards, so expect the Storm to rebound here. They haven’t lost three in a row since June 2015.Embed from Getty Images
There’s been some absolute Shednados between these bitter rivals.
They played in back-to-back grand finals in 2007/08. Melbourne won their second premiership in 2007 (before it was stripped due to their salary cap issues), beating Manly 34-8. Manly returned the favour 12 months later, smashing the Cameron Smith-less Storm 40-0.
Three years later, it was the infamous ”Battle of Brookvale”. On a spicy Friday night in August, 2011, over 20,000 packed Brooky to see the eventual premiers beat Melbourne 18-4 in a spiteful clash.
In Round 11, 2018, Manly beat Melbourne 24-4 in another fiery clash, this time in Melbourne. It was a rare highlight in an ugly season for the Sea Eagles (finishing second-last), while Melbourne finished second before losing the grand final to the Sydney Roosters.
Storm by 10.
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