2023 NRL Preview Round 15: Storm Vs Sharks

After both the Sharks and Storm suffered poor losses last outing, they’ll look for redemption on the eve of Origin 2 with a number of Blues and Maroons jumpers up for grabs.

MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

Melbourne Storm Vs Cronulla Sharks
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Date: Sunday June 11, 4:05pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Grant Anderson 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Aaron Pene 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Tariq Sims 18. Sualauvi Faalogo 19. Marion Seve 20. Kane Bradley 21. Tyran Wishart 22. Tom Eisenhuth

Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Oregon Kaufusi 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Royce Hunt 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Wade Graham 16. Jack Williams 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Connor Tracey 20. Thomas Hazelton 21. Daniel Atkinson 22. Jesse Colquhoun

Referee: Ashley Klein

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MATCHDAY PREVIEW

The bye had been good for teams most of the 2023 season, but it backfired for both the Storm and Sharks badly last week as they suffered disappointing losses coming off their rests in round 13. Only two of the seven teams coming off the bye won last weekend, with these two the biggest under-performers.

The Storm was humbled by the bottom 4 Cowboys, losing 45-20 to mark the most points they’ve conceded in any match in two decades. Meanwhile, the Sharks couldn’t overcome the Broncos at home despite being favourites and having numerous opportunities. Whoever wins this clash will be in the top four so it’s certainly got a lot at stake for both clubs.

The Storm come in not only as favourites, but with a daunting record Sharks fans should try and look away from, having enjoyed winning five of their last six. For the hosts, Grant Anderson replaces Justin Olam in the centres after he failed his HIA on Sunday, with Tariq Sims joining the bench. Harry Grant has been particularly quiet over the Origin period and the Storm will be eager for him and Cameron Munster to fire before once again heading into Origin camp for the Maroons.

One of the biggest issues facing the home side is how they conceded five tries and 31 points in the second half last week – all in the outside backs. Anderson had some defensive woes last season and will no doubt be a target for the Sharks attack coming into the side for his third game of the season just last week. It may very well not matter how well the big three of Grant, Hughes and Munster play if they can’t tighten up a defensive line that has had more holes in it than Swiss cheese of late.

Cameron McInnes is the only inclusion for the Sharks, replacing Thomas Hazelton on the interchange and it strengthens a forward pack badly needing troops back in the middle. The forwards for the Sharks are normally a gritty pack, but it’s the punch of the edges that could be their trump cards in this matchup. Briton Nikola and Teig Wilton have enjoyed career best form in 2023 and are primed to make an impact. Nikora in particular is likely to cause the Storm headaches on the right edge and could be a difference maker.

It will however be the return of the prodigal son Nicho Hynes, that likely determines the result, playing his second match against the club he spent his young career at before moving to the Shire. If playing his old club isn’t enough, Hynes has the opportunity to either retain his Origin jumper or get promoted to the Blues starting halfback spot vacated by the injured Nathan Cleary. There’s is no better audition than against the Maroons star 6 and 9 duo on Sunday so it’s a performance that could end up being one of his best.

Despite Hynes motivations and ability to tear a game open, it will however not do much good if the rest of the Sharks can’t convert their opportunities. Last week against the Broncos, Hynes created four line breaks himself only to see most of them squandered. Overall, the Sharks supporting cast were poor and they’d be hoping to put last week’s completions and errors behind them.

Unfortunately for Sharks fans they’ve only ever won two games in Melbourne and the Storm generally bounce back after a poor performance so it will be against the odds if they are victorious. No doubt Coach Bellamy will have his team improved and hungry, but it looks like it would be easier to predict Powerball than the outcome of this one.

LAST TEN MATCHES

Storm 6, Sharks 4.

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Sharks by 8 points.

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