Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm
Like a spin-off to your favourite sitcom, this blockbuster is set to serve as the intriguing aftermath to Origin I. A total of nine Origin players will again take centre stage on Monday night.
The two teams last met a little over a month ago which resulted in a one-point victory to Melbourne courtesy of, you guessed it, another Cooper Cronk field goal.
That loss was part of a four game winless run for Sydney who have managed to rediscover their swagger somewhat prior to the bye week with double-digit wins over Wests Tigers and Canterbury.
The Storm entered the Origin period in top spot on the NRL ladder and now face the difficult assignment of back-to-back road games in just six days.
Christian Welch, Ben Hampton and Hymel Hunt have all been added to an extended bench for the visitors while the Roosters remain 1-17 from a fortnight ago.
All nine Origin players should be able to beat the recovery clock given the added rest time with the Monday night fixture.
Watch out Roosters: Wonderful Will – If Will Chambers was sliding under the radar in 2015 his performance in Origin I has cast him deservingly into the spotlight. The centre-come-winger lead the way by a significant margin with 260 metres, the next best was Justin Hodges (195). Many fans thought Cameron Smith unfairly pipped him for Man of the Match honours but what is for sure is that his standing as a star of the competition is now complete. With seven tries from 10 games this season he is the Storm's joint leading try scorer and will be chock full of confidence.
Watch out Storm: The Sydney Roosters had the No.1 attack in the competition in 2014, averaging 25.6 points per game. However during their four match winless run this season they could not muster a score of 20 points. Their two games prior to the bye perhaps showed that they have recaptured their attacking mojo. The Roosters put 36 and 24 points on their opponents respectively prior to the bye, helped in part by the return to form of Daniel Tupou. The 23-year-old scored four tries in those two games, overcoming a dry spell that saw him cross the line just once during that run of four defeats.
Key Match-Up: Mitchell Pearce v Cooper Cronk – These two halves will renew hostilities at club level on Monday night and Pearce will be determined to not be overshadowed this time around. Cronk was at his mercurial best in Origin I and looked a class above the Blues halves. It was also the second time in five weeks Pearce had been on the wrong end of a game-winning Cronk field goal. Given the form Cronk is currently showing, Pearce has little choice but to find a way to get the creative edge in this match-up, failure to do so and it could be curtains for the Roosters.
The History: Played 28; Storm 15, Roosters 13. Little separates these two teams historically, even in Sydney where the Roosters hold the slightest advantage winning four of the past seven games.
What Are The Odds: Roosters v Storm. Sportsbet reports there’s been more money wagered on the Storm than the Roosters head to head. Storm 1-12 is the most popular in margin betting. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Jared Maxwell. Assistant Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Chris Sutton. Video Referees: Steve Chiddy and Henry Perenara.
Televised: Channel Nine, Live, 7pm.
The Way We See It: Melbourne struggled to cope with the Roosters size last season but they showed in Round 7 that the issue has been addressed. The Storm's stars are flying and seem more settled than the Roosters who have been patchy to date to say the least. Storm by 6.