Storm brace for fire-breathing revenge
Whether it be revenge, redemption or a desperation to overturn an injustice, Melbourne should be prepared for a fired-up Dragons side at WIN Stadium on Monday night.
Despite holding a favourable head-to-head record over the Dragons, the Storm has not won an away fixture between these two clubs since Round 5, 2007.
The last meeting between them ended in a whirlwind of controversy after Young Tonumaipea scored a try after the siren to steal the unlikeliest of Storm victories.
A review conducted in the aftermath revealed that final try should have been disallowed given the play-of-the-ball was taken after the final siren had sounded.
Since that Round 6 defeat the Dragons' season has unraveled, with the side losing five of their next seven games and sacking coach Steve Price in the midst of that slump.
This time around however Benji Marshall could hold the X-factor and along with former Storm halfback Gareth Widdop has helped St George Illawarra play improved football that has seen the side win two of their past three.
The visitors will plan to subdue the influence of the dangerous halves pairing but understand the challenge they face in Wollongong.
“You can try to stop them but we all know how gifted Gaz [Widdop] is. We’ve played plenty of football with him and he is a very gifted footballer,” Storm prop Bryan Norrie told NRL.com.
“Then you’ve got Benji Marshall… and we all know what he can do.
“They’ve got a great halves pairing and they’ve actually been complimenting each other with the way they’ve been playing the last couple of weeks.
“It makes their attack on both edges very hard to stop.”
Monday night’s game coincides with a crucial point in Melbourne’s season.
A win would put them within touching distance of the top four while a loss could have them out of the eight by the end of the round.
With just four premiership points separating 4th and 11th spot on the NRL ladder, the competition is alive with a long list of finals hopefuls.
Norrie admits slip-ups are something no team can afford at this stage of the season.
“I think everybody in the NRL knows how tight the comp is and how close the ladder is,” said Norrie.
“We do just try and concentrate week to week but we are well aware that if you lose a game or two you can be right out of the eight.
"You have to try and get your wins for sure because I’d say the eight could rely on for and against as well to get in at the end of the year.”
Norrie should have had plenty to gloat about during the week after getting among the try scorers against the Eels last Sunday for just the ninth time in his 169-game career.
However it was the man who set up the veteran’s shining moment that was out to steal his spotlight.
“Hinchy’s [Ryan Hinchcliffe] been carrying on a bit, thinking he’s set me up for the try,” said Norrie.
“I’ll give him credit, he played really well and he hooked me up for a meat pie which I don’t get many of.
“Most front-rowers are pretty excited when they get a try but it was a bit of fun and I appreciate the big fella hooking me up.”