Wests Tigers v Storm: Schick Preview

Schick Hydro Preview: Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm
Leichhardt Oval
Sunday, 4.00pm

It's been a tumultuous week for Wests Tigers after the shock sacking of coach Jason Taylor just three matches into the Telstra Premiership season.

While it came as a surprise, Wests Tigers have been poor in their past two losses.

The Tigers have copped humiliating thrashings in a 36-2 defeat against the Penrith Panthers in Round 2 followed up by a 46-6 shellacking to the Canberra Raiders last week.

The Melbourne Storm on the other hand are motoring along with three straight wins for an unbeaten start. The clinical and structured Storm won't spare a sorry thought for the under-the-pump Wests Tigers.

Why Wests Tigers can win: Wests Tigers will have a point to prove following Taylor's dismissal. Often teams come out firing in adversity and they will be determined to impress in front of a vocal Leichhardt home crowd. Interim head coach Andrew Webster will be eager for a strong showing against the top-of-the-table Storm, using the emotion of a tough week to motivate his side. The two sides met last year and in each match Wests Tigers pushed the Storm to their limits. Melbourne held on for a 29-20 victory in their last meeting in Round 16, and at Leichhardt Oval in Round 7, the Storm stole a thrilling 19-18 last-gasp triumph. With injuries to key Storm players Suliasi Vunivalu and Cameron Munster, if Wests Tigers catch Melbourne on a bad day then anything is possible, particularly when you have James Tedesco in your side.

Why the Storm can win: The Storm are cruising with a 3-0 start despite a number of injuries and a new-look side this season. Fullback Billy Slater finally returned to the field last week and looked as fast as ever. There's no doubt the hit out will serve him very well with his passing and timing to improve. Melbourne will also carry plenty of confidence after a morale-boosting 14-12 win over the resilient Brisbane Broncos in the final three minutes of the match last week. In another intriguing storyline, speedster Josh Addo-Carr returns to Leichhardt Oval to face his former side for the first time. It will be interesting to see how motivated he is and how well he combines with Slater against the Tigers

Key match-up: Aaron Woods v Jesse Bromwich. The Australian and Kiwi front rowers go head-to-head in a tantalising match-up. Both players are imperative to success in the forwards battle. For Wests Tigers to have any shot at victory, Woods must deliver in a big way against an imposing Storm pack. Woods is averaging 117 metres per game. In his early return from a dislocated-thumb injury, Bromwich was inspirational in leading his pack, racking up 132 metres in the win over the Broncos. It will be belter watching these two go at it and will be worth the price of admission alone.

 


The history:
Played 28; Wests Tigers 10; Storm 18. While the Storm won both matches in 2016, history shows Wests Tigers have proven competitive against the NRL powerhouse. Wests Tigers last beat Melbourne 34-16 at Leichhardt Oval in Round 21, 2015.

What are the odds: By far the most one-sided market of the round. The crisis at Wests Tigers has seen 96 per cent of money on the Storm to rub it in, and Melbourne 13+ accounts for 80 per cent of the money in winning margin betting. The Storm even have the bulk of support at the line. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au

Match officials: Ben Cummins, Chris Butler. Sideline Officials: Nick Beashel, Michael Wise. Video Referees: Bernard Sutton, Ben Galea.

Televised: Channel Nine - Live coverage from 4.00pm; Fox League – Live coverage from 3.30pm.

NRL.com predicts: It's difficult to see the Storm facing too many issues against an under-the-pump Wests Tigers. It'll take time for Tigers to adjust to a new coach, and while they will be inspired at Leichhardt Oval, the Storm will be too clinical and too classy. Wests Tigers defence has conceded 82 points in the last two matches and if it doesn't improve, Melbourne could rack up another big score. Storm by 16.