Streaks on the line for Bulldogs and Storm
Two of rugby league's longest active streaks will go head-to-head on Friday evening, with history to be made at Belmore Sports Ground between the Bulldogs and Storm.
The visitors will head into the contest looking to preserve their incredible record of 12-consecutive Round 1 victories in the Telstra Premiership, but they won't have it all their own way against a Bulldogs side that has won six on the trot against the Storm.
Melbourne's record in season openers is no fluke, with last year's minor premiers priding themselves on picking up the two competition points to ensure they have momentum from the outset.
Their recent wins haven't been pretty – the average margin in the past three Round 1 fixtures is just three points – but according to Storm skipper Cameron Smith, all that matters is the end result.
"Our pre-seasons are notoriously quite tough. It's well known by a lot of people in rugby league that we train extremely hard in the pre-season to have us ready to go in Round 1," Smith told NRL.com.
"We've never ever had a mindset of trying to build into a season. We have an expectation of being ready to start Round 1 in full flight. We've put a little bit of pride into winning those Round 1 matches because if you can do that then it gets you on your way to performing well for the whole year.
"But this season is a bit of a different prospect. I was looking at our record against the Bulldogs and it's not that great.
"I don't think we've beaten these guys since 2013, and particularly playing at Belmore, it's going to make the situation even harder than what it usually is. It will be a huge challenge for us, but we're all excited about getting our season underway, and hopefully it starts with a victory."
The Storm will head into the clash as slight favourites with Sportsbet despite having beaten the Bulldogs just once since the 2012 grand final.
They'll head into Friday night's match averaging just six points per game during the six-game losing streak to the blue and whites, and their cause won't be helped with an 0-2 record at Belmore.
"For whatever reason, we've struggled against these guys in recent years. I'm not too sure why that is," Smith said.
"I think going back a few years ago it was because of how dominant their forward pack has been, but I believe we've got a pack in the middle of our field that can certainly match those guys now.
"I think they showed what they're capable of last season, so if we come out and match them aggressively then we'll be in with a good chance of getting a good result."