Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 6.30pm AEDT
The Storm closed out the round on Monday night with a grinding 18-16 win against St George Illawarra, while the Titans ran in three tries in nine minutes early in the second half to put the Knights away 30-12.
Prop Agnatius Paasi and lock Greg Bird were both huge in the Titans' win over Newcastle, both running for more than 150 metres and also getting on the scoresheet. Paasi was played in by Bird for the second try of the game, and Bird also laid on an assist for winger Anthony Don in the second half.
The Storm had an early scare against the Dragons, going down 10-0 inside 15 minutes, but a quickfire double from Marika Koroibete soon after turned the momentum the way of the Melbourne side and they were able to do enough from there to take home the victory.
Both coaches were clearly happy with how their sides fared in Round 1, with both sides naming the same 17 for this Sunday's match. Gold Coast have added Will Zillman and Luke Douglas to an extended bench, with the pair returning from injury and suspension respectively.
Watch out Storm: Greg Bird was immense during the Titans' 30-12 victory over the Knights in Round 1, and he made an impact all over the park. Bird ran for 158 metres, set the tone defensively, and was one of only eight men during Round 1 to notch two try assists. It was a solid all-round game from Bird, and with the lock loving the freedom that comes with the role, Bird will be looking to cause major problems for Melbourne.
Watch out Titans: Billy Slater and Cameron Munster both had successful returns to the Melbourne Storm line-up in Round 1, after injuries were threatening to postpone the start of their season. A fully fit Slater paired with a strong Storm backline may be enough to cause problems for their inexperienced opponents.
Key match-up: Jesse Bromwich v Agnatius Paasi. After a blistering performance against the Knights in Round 1, Agnatius Paasi will get the chance to go head-to-head with one of the best props in the world on Sunday night. Paasi ran for 165 metres in the opening round, which put him inside the top 15 in the competition for that statistic. Jesse Bromwich is coming off a stellar 2015 with the Storm, and was a big factor in the Storm's home win against the Dragons on Monday. Look for Paasi to try to build on his Round 1 performance against one of the best in the game.
The history: Played 14; Storm 9, Titans 5. Melbourne have the wood over the Gold Coast in their short history, with the Storm winning 64 per cent of the time. The last two results have gone the way of the Victorian club, with the Storm running away convincing 36-14 winners in their only meeting last season.
What are the odds: Sportsbet punters are looking for some value and they've found it with the Titans. There has been twice as much invested on the Gold Coast and incredibly, the Titans 13+ is the best-backed option in margin betting. David Mead has been backed at decent odds to be first tryscorer. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Touch Judges: Michael Wise, Shane Rehm. Senior RO: Luke Patten. Review Officials: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie.
Televised: Fox Sports (Live) – 6.30pm AEDT
The way we see it: Both teams will be looking to make it two wins on the bounce to begin the season. The Storm may have just enough firepower for the Titans, and the home ground advantage should equate to a Melbourne Storm victory. Melbourne by 10.