One of the NRL’s most inconsistent sides in 2014 will take on arguably the most consistent on Saturday night.
Contrary to past seasons, Melbourne has endured a roller coaster 2014 with patchy form.
After three straight wins to start 2014 the Storm have lost eight of their past 12, a run that sees them clinging to eighth spot on the NRL ladder on points differential.
Their Round 18 opponents Canterbury sit in outright third after courtesy of a winning streak that began the last time these two teams met in Round 4 and ended against the Roosters seven weeks later.
The visitors will be without Josh Reynolds after the NSW five-eighth was suspended for three matches for a shoulder charge on Will Chambers in Origin III.
Despite Reynolds’ absence, the Storm are well aware of the threat the Bulldogs pose.
“They play a strong brand of footy across the board and they are coached well by Des Hasler,” said Storm veteran Ryan Hinchcliffe.
“They have been one of the most consistent sides this year so we are going to have to be on our game, that's for sure.”
Consistency has been uncharacteristically illusive for the Victorian side this season.
Given they are currently one of seven teams locked on 20 premiership points it is a trait the Storm must soon rediscover.
“We are getting towards the back end of the season now so it's important that we start playing some good consistent footy,” said Hinchcliffe.
“I have been playing for a few years now and it's certainly the toughest competition I've seen.
“Any team on any given day can knock the other team off. It's obviously good for the fans because it means their team is in with a shot.
“You have to make sure you are preparing the best you can and playing the best you can otherwise you’re going to get knocked off.”
Importantly, it looks likely that Melbourne’s four Origin representative will play on Saturday night.
“I think they've all come through unscathed so we will just have to see after today,” Hinchcliffe said.
Melbourne will look to shake a two-game losing streak against Canterbury when the two sides meet at 7.30pm on Saturday night at AAMI Park.