Warriors brace for familiar challenge

Having already faced the Melbourne Storm twice in the last two months, the Warriors likely have a better understanding of their Round 8 opponents than any other team in the NRL Telstra Premiership right now.

But with defeats in both of those encounters, going down 30-18 to the Storm in the pre-season before losing 26-10 in Round 2, the Kiwi franchise are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky when they meet on Anzac Day at AAMI Park.

Warriors' halfback Shaun Johnson said his side had learned some valuable lessons from the earlier encounters this year, but expected the Storm to be a different prospect with star fullback Billy Slater back in their spine.  

"I think every time you get to play a side you learn a bit more about them, but then they have a player like Slater come back in and it sort of throws a spanner in it all again," Johnson said.

"We will watch tape on what they have done over the previous couple of weeks and we will play to that.

"You like to play against the best players in the game and the group they have got down there, they have definitely earned that right with the way they play.

"It is an awesome challenge for us, there's individual challenges you can look at but as a team and executing what we want to, it's another opportunity to do that."

‌The Warriors and Storm have a history of close games, but in recent times Melbourne have won four out of the last five head-to-head clashes, with coach Craig Bellamy's side having outscored the Warriors 133 points to 66 through that period.

After coughing up 17 errors in last week's 20-8 loss to the Canberra Raiders, Warriors second-rower Ryan Hoffman said his side would need to show vast improvement in their ball control if they were to challenge Melbourne in Round 8.

"We certainly [couldn't afford to] give a team like Canberra good quality ball like that, we definitely can't give Melbourne good quality ball like that," Hoffman said.

"Not beating ourselves [is the focus], because that definitely happened in the second half [against the Raiders] where I don't think we completed our first three sets. We need to be much better coming out of our own end.

"It's a thing that can be easily fixed, I think that was the most frustrating thing about the weekend was that we felt like we cruelled ourselves in that game."

Melbourne head into the match in second position on the ladder with six wins from seven games and possessed the best defence in the competition after seven rounds, having conceded only 12 points per match on average so far in 2017.

 

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