Storm v Titans preview
Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans
Plenty of points and a nail-biting finish – if that is the kind of game you're after then history suggests this is the one for you.
The last five games between these two teams have been decided by eight points or less and in their past three meetings an average of 47 points have been scored.
After being hit with a reality check last week Melbourne can ill-afford another slip-up as they run into a Gold Coast outfit that is just as prone to the scintillating as they are the shocking.
For the second time this season the Storm were defeated by the last-placed side in the competition after allowing the Wests Tigers to pile on six of the last seven tries last Friday night in what was their worst defensive performance of the year.
The untimely result has left them two games adrift of the top four, leaving them to play a daunting game of catch-up for the final five games of the season.
A dismal year was dealt a rare shining light for the Titans last week as they snapped their five-game losing run by overturning a half-time deficit against the Eels to win 24-10.
The visitors have received a huge boost ahead of Sunday with captain Nate Myles returning to the side from a shoulder injury.
Melbourne have resisted the urge to significantly reshuffle their lineup after last week's disappointment, with Felise Kaufusi being relegated to the bench in place of Tim Glasby their only change for now.
Watch Out Storm: "We've got a problem." That was the succinct summation of coach Craig Bellamy after last week's loss to the Wests Tigers. The worrying trend of the season for Melbourne is their inability to consistently get the job done against opposition they seemingly should have no trouble beating. Five of Melbourne's nine losses in 2015 have come against teams that currently sit in the bottom half of the table. With another lowly opposition waiting this week in the 14th-placed Titans, Melbourne must put an end to the upset results before they dig themselves a hole too big to get out of.
Watch Out Titans: Sunday's game sees the NRL's second best defence up against the second worst and there is no prize for guessing where the Titans sit in those rankings. Neil Henry's side possess the worst points differential in the competition (-141) thanks largely to their habit of leaking points, badly. Prior to last week's win over the Eels, the Titans had lost five games in a row by double-digit margins conceding an average of nearly 32 points a game. Unlike the travel-weary Parra, Melbourne will be well rested off a nine-day break and desperate to make amends of last week's capitulation. The Titans best make the trip prepared to offer their share of resistance or else this contest could be over before it really begins.
Key Match-Up: Will Chambers v James Roberts. These two centres may be lining up on opposing sides but the importance of both men to the fortunes of their respective sides makes their need to outdo each other a vital subplot in this contest. Roberts has scored 15 tries in 19 games this season, comfortably more than any other teammate and he ranks third at his club for total metres. As does Chambers, who started the season in a rich vain of form and at one point also topped his club's try-scoring list. However Chambers has hit a scoring slump, failing to get across the line in eight consecutive games now. Roberts will be the Titans' biggest attacking threat against a Storm left edge that showed last week it can be a significant chink in the purple armour. Chambers is often the deciding X-factor in his own right, whichever man can fulfil their role could prove the difference on the outside.
The History: Played 13; Storm 8, Titans 5. Gold Coast should hold no fears of coming to AAMI Park having taken the points home from their last visit in Round 5, 2014 thanks to a Greg Bird penalty kick as time expired.
What Are The Odds: Melbourne have been the best-backed side of the round, with an incredible 10 times the amount placed on the Storm in comparison to the Titans. Melbourne 13+ is the only margin that punters want to bet on with Sportsbet. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match Officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Touch Judges: Rick MacFarlane & David Ryan. Video Referees: Jared Maxwell & Daniel Irvine.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live from 2pm AET.
The Way We See It: The Titans could well be in the wrong place at the wrong time against a Storm side that will be hungry to redeem themselves. Storm by 12.