Storm v Knights preview
Melbourne Storm V Newcastle Knights,
Melbourne are on course for another finals series and a tilt at the premiership, while the Knights are hoping to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Storm overtook Cronulla to move into fifth spot on the ladder after overpowering the Sharks 30-2 on Monday night. The win allowed them to keep pace with the Rabbitohs, who currently sit two points above them in the race for a double chance in the finals.
Newcastle on the other hand just want this season to be over and are hoping to avoid the wooden spoon in the process. The Knights currently sit 15th, locked on seven wins with the Titans and Tigers.
They make the trip to Victoria not entirely bereft of confidence, having recovered from a slow start last week to defeat the Tigers 24-18 for just their second win in 11 games.
With a fortnight ahead against finals aspirants in the Storm and the Bulldogs, Newcastle must now focus on spoiling a few parties rather than start up one of their own.
Watch Out Storm: Akuila Uate – The bulldozing winger has been a thorn in Melbourne's side in recent years, crossing the line in his past four consecutive games against them (five tries in total). He will be running full steam ahead at a Storm left edge that, although held up well on against the Sharks, is often seen as the biggest chink in the purple armour. Uate holds the x-factor that shapes as the only real threat against the heavily favored home side.
Watch Out Knights: Blowout danger – If defence wins premierships then the Knights are a long way off the pace in 2015. They are currently tied with the Titans for the worst defence in the Telstra Premiership, conceding an average of 26.5 points per game. This could create a perfect storm on Monday night against a Melbourne team that is beginning to make a habit of blowing their opponents out of the water. Melbourne's last five wins have come at an average margin of 27 points, which means if Newcastle arrive at AAMI Park with little resistance things could get ugly, quickly.
Key Match-Up: Marika Koroibete v Akuila Uate – This head-to-head battle between Fijian internationals is set to have to the highlight reel ticking over. Both players sit atop the try-scoring list for their respective clubs with Koroibete's 15 tries nearly double that of any other Storm teammate. Last week's game against the Sharks was the first time in seven games Koroibete failed to get across the line. For all his flashy brilliance, the one knock on the emerging winger can be his edge defence. Given he will be alongside youngster Kurt Mann, the Knights may see the 100-kilogram Uate as their main hope of causing an upset. Cue the fireworks.
The History: Played 33; Storm 19, Knights 14. Newcastle have won two of the last three games in this head-to-head clash and the last five meetings have resulted in nail-biting encounters that have been decided by an average margin of just five points.
What Are The Odds: Storm v Knights - Melbourne may be short price favourites, but it hasn’t stopped Sportsbet customers from making them a lock in their multis. The Storm have even been well backed conceding the start in handicap betting as well as 13+ in margin betting. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assistant Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: David Ryan and Belinda Sleeman. Video Referees: Steve Clark and Ben Galea.
Televised: Fox Sports – LIVE from 7pm AEST
The Way We See It: Playing for pride and playing for a premiership are two vastly different things, which unfortunately does not bode well for the Knights. Storm by 12.