Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
For the second time this season, the Storm and the Warriors will face off for competition points, this time as they round out the ANZAC Day triple header at AAMI Park on Monday night.
A field goal to Cooper Cronk with three minutes to play followed by a try to Marika Koroibete was enough for the Storm to come away with a hard fought 21-14 win against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium in Round 3.
Since then, both sides have had injury problems, with the Warriors losing fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for the season following a knee injury he picked up against the Bulldogs last weekend.
Manu Vatuvei returns from a hamstring injury and replaces Tuivasa-Sheck in the 17 for Monday's game, with Tuimoala Lolohea shifting to fullback.
The Storm lost Will Chambers two weeks ago and are yet to find consistency on the field in the outside backs position with yet another change this weekend, as Young Tonumaipea replaces Suliasi Vunivalu in the centres for the ANZAC Day clash.
This Monday marks the seventh installment of the historic clash between the Storm and the Warriors, with the Storm winning three times, the Warriors twice, and a 14-all draw in the first edition back in 2009.
Watch out Storm: For a side with five wins from their opening seven games, the Storm know there's still plenty of improvement needed in their attack. Only three teams have scored fewer points than the Storm all season, and even though their defense is winning them games, they'll be coming up against one of the best offensive teams in the competition on Monday. The Warriors have scored 30 tries this season compared to the Storm's 22, and the Kiwis have scored 20+ points in a game four times, with Melbourne achieving the milestone only twice. If this game turns into a high scoring affair, it looks as though it could be the Warriors who will benefit.
Watch out Warriors: After Billy Slater was sidelined for the remainder of the season following his shoulder injury in Round 1, Storm young gun Cameron Munster has stepped up in Slater's absence, and become one of the Storm's most crucial players. The 21-year-old fullback is fifth in total running meters so far this season, and without Tuivasa-Sheck as the Warriors' first choice fullback, Munster could be in for another huge offensive game.
Key match-up: Marika Koroibete v Manu Vatuvei. As the Kiwi returns to the Warriors line-up after a two-week absence through injury, this match-up has the potential to be a deciding factor in the contest. Vatuvei missed the Round 3 clash with the Storm and Koroibete made the Warriors pay, running for a team-high 163 meters and scoring the sealing try. Vatuvei may have size on his side in this match-up but Koroibete has him covered for speed, so look for these two to try and use their strengths to propel their team to victory.
The history: Played 37; Storm 19, Warriors 16, Drawn 2. There isn't too much between these sides whenever they play according to their history, with the Storm just edging out the Warriors for bragging rights. The past six contests have been split evenly, with the Storm winning the reverse fixture this season in Round 3 by seven points.
What are the odds: This isn't as one sided a betting game as you'd expect with only slightly more dollars invested on the Storm, who are favourites. Sportsbet punters who are keen on the Warriors are taking them with the start, as well as 1-12 in margin betting. Latest odds at sportsbet http://www.sportsbet.com.au/betting/rugby-league/nrl?QuickLinks
Match Officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant Referee: Gavin Reynolds. Touch Judges: Brett Suttor and Dave Munro. Review Officials: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea. Senior RO: Luke Patten
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 6.30pm (AEST)
How we see it: Including the draw in 2009, three of the six ANZAC Day clashes have been decided by six points or less. The Storm were able to edge New Zealand with a seven-point win earlier on this season, so expect for another close contest this time around. The Warriors should put up a strong fight, but the loss of Tuivasa-Sheck may just be too much to overcome against a solid Melbourne outfit. Storm by 8.