Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
The Roosters will be out for revenge on Saturday night when they travel to AAMI Park, after the Storm handed them their worst loss of the season just six weeks ago.
The Storm ran in eight tries to nil and kept the hosts scoreless in the 46-0 demolition of the Tricolours in Round 14.
It was one of the performances of the year from the Melbourne Storm and was a huge factor in the club having their best Origin period since 2011, as the Storm won five of six during the bye rounds.
Melbourne have won three of their past four since the Round 14 clash to extend their gap inside the top two to six points from the third-placed Cowboys, and sit just one win behind Cronulla in top spot.
The same can't be said for the Roosters, as the Tricolours have lost four in a row, but they did impress against the Sharks on Monday night and almost upset the ladder leaders.
Both sides are unchanged heading into Saturday night's clash, with Jesse Bromwich set to play his 150th NRL match.
Watch out Storm: Despite losing their past two games, the Roosters have put up some strong performances, especially against the Sharks on Monday night. The Chooks pushed the Sharks for the full 80 minutes and almost ended Cronulla's winning streak at 13. The Storm were far from their best against the Knights on the weekend, and if the Roosters are able to continue from where they left off against the Sharks, they could be getting the big scalp they're after.
Watch out Roosters: During the first half of the year, the Storm's backline had been decimated by injuries, with the club needing to make changes to their back five almost every week. As we enter the final rounds of the season, and with Cameron Munster and Will Chambers returning to the first grade last week, this looks like one of the strongest backlines the Storm have fielded all season, which is sure to cause problems for the Roosters' defence.
Key match-up: Cameron Munster v Latrell Mitchell: Two of the league's most exciting and skilful young fullbacks will face off on Saturday night. The 21-year-old Cameron Munster has excelled in the absence of Billy Slater this season, finding himself in the top 15 for running metres, as well as fifth in the league for most line breaks. At the other end of the field, 19-year-old Latrell Mitchell has showed why many consider him to be one of the contenders for Rookie of the Year, as Mitchell has 11 tries to his name and leads the league in last line of defence tackles. Both players are in the top 10 for tackle breaks, so this match-up shapes to be a very exciting one.
The history: Played 31; Storm 17, Roosters 14. The Storm have just shaded the Roosters in recent meetings winning three of the past five games between the two sides, with the most memorable contest coming in the opening week of the 2015 finals series, as the fourth placed Storm toppled the ladder leaders at Allianz Stadium 20-18.
What are the odds: Melbourne have been the best-backed team of the entire round, with 90 per cent of money placed on them according to Sportsbet. Storm 13-plus has more wagered on it than all of the other margin options combined. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Gavin Badger. Assistant Referee: Adam Devcich. Touch Judges: Rohan Best, Shane Rehm. Review Officials: Ben Galea, Jason Robinson. Senior RO: Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 7.30pm (AEST).
How we see it: After the Storm's destruction of the Roosters in Round 14 and the return of some of their key players, many could be forgiven for predicting a similar score line for this Saturday's clash. However, the Roosters impressed against the Sharks last week and will be looking to build on that performance against the other top-two side in the competition. The Storm should win, but it will be a lot closer than last time. Storm by 6.