Storm v Roosters Preview

Storm v Roosters
AAMI Park
Monday 7pm

Excuse me… excuse me, Mr Brian Smith: We don’t mean to bother you, but do you think you could tell us which Roosters team is playing this Monday against Melbourne?

Is it the free-flowing exciting one that recently went to the Gold Coast and beat the Titans in their fortress? Or is it the bunch of hacks and amateurs who were embarrassed and annihilated by the Sharks in front of your own loyal fans?

It’s only fair that you tell us… or could it be that you don’t know either, such is the sporadic and inconsistent performance we’ve now come to expect from your team!

Seriously… the Roosters are perhaps the most frustrating team to follow in the NRL this season. They are running ninth but have lost to the teams running 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th – and if they fail here you can add 16th to that list!

The reality for the Roosters is this Monday represents a huge match in their season. They take on a Storm side minus its rep stars and minus the ability to accrue the premiership points. If they leave Melbourne with their feathers plucked, it might be time to call and end to their title aspirations.

Yes they will be without halfback Mitchell Pearce, as he has been charged with rescuing New South Wales from State of Origin oblivion, but with Todd Carney able to move to halfback they have good cover.

Plus, a former golden boot winner in Anthony Minichiello takes over at fullback… not a bad trade.

This movement also sees Joseph Leilua move to centre, Phil Graham shift out to the wing and Sam Perrett return on the other wing.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is also out of the side, with Mose Masoe starting at prop. Nate Myles is off with Queensland, giving Tom Symonds the chance to start in the second row.

Martin Kennedy, Lopini Paea and James Aubusson have been added to the bench.

For the home side Storm it is a very young unit, but one full of enthusiasm.

Billy Slater is out with Justin O’Neill to fill in this time (as Gareth Widdop is off playing for England).

Greg Inglis is out, with Chase Stanley set to play centre, while Luke Kelly will play halfback for Queensland’s Cooper Cronk.

Cameron Smith returns to the Maroons’ line-up, so Ryan Hinchcliffe will play hooker for the Storm and Aiden Tolman will start at prop for Blues prop Brett White.

Ryan Hoffman is also out of the side, which brings Sika Manu into the starting back row while the new bench faces are Rory Kostjasyn, Jeff Lima, Ryan Tandy and Robbie Rochow.

Watch out Storm: The Storm side is full of different combinations, giving the Roosters plenty of areas to target, but they will almost certainly spend most of their time attacking the right side of the field.

The Storm have conceded 18 tries on the right side of the field compared to just six on the left and as such it is a weakness that must be tested and exploited.

With Shaun Kenny-Dowell and Mitch Aubusson doing pretty well on the right for the Roosters perhaps they are good choices for first tryscorer here.

Watch out Roosters: These kids have a licence to thrill! The Storm’s season might be effectively over but with money for charity on the line and the ability to play without fear the Melbourne kids have nothing to lose.

Don’t be surprised to see the side shift the ball early in the tackle count from within their own half as the coaching staff knows the Roosters have conceded more tries from over halfway than any other team. Nine times the Roosters have let a team crack them from distance… if you saw last week’s game against the Sharks you saw one of the best by young Nathan Gardner. One thing is for sure… you will be entertained.

Where it will be won:
How can this game be about much else other than attitude? If the Roosters don’t turn up to play they might as well call the game off early and go sit in Crown Casino.

It’s time they got fair dinkum about their footy and prove they care about where their season is headed. They could learn a lot from the Storm, who despite the issues put in front of them, have sucked it up and continued to play pretty good footy.

You know the attitude of the home side is going to be one of enthusiasm, especially with this many youngsters and players trying to prove their worth. The Roosters need to bring the intensity and a will to win or their season will be as dead as Melbourne’s real fast.

They’ll need some steel in defence, considering they are the fourth worst in the NRL, and some discipline in attack. Currently they concede over 25 points a match while the Storm leaks just under 14.

The history:
Played 20; Storm 11, Roosters 9. The Storm have won seven of the past nine games against the Roosters, including the past three in a row. In those three most recent games the Storm’s average winning margin is a comfortable 24.6 points.

This is the first time the teams have played at AAMI Park but not since April 2005 have the Storm been beaten at home after losing in Sydney the previous week.

Conclusion:
Don’t bother trying to get a form read off the Roosters… but in reality they should be strong enough to beat a weakened Storm.

They were terrible last weekend but the Tri-colours have the benefit of two good halves, some decent forwards and some experienced outside backs.

In saying that, the Storm’s forward pack is far from weak, with some big Kiwi forwards ready to do damage, while Brett Finch is an old pro in the halves.

Whichever way you lean, you’ll probably kick yourself if you’re wrong.

Match officials: Referees – Ashley Klein & Bernard Sutton; Sideline Officials – Luke Potter & Phil Haines; Video Ref – Paul Simpkins.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 7pm.