Storm v Raiders: Schick Preview

Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
AAMI Park
Saturday 2nd September, 7.30pm

Like a steamroller flattening a field of grass, the Melbourne Storm have crushed the hopes of most all season. Standing in their way this week? The Canberra Raiders, in 10th spot, ready to upset the Storm's momentum.

They may have the minor premiership wrapped up but the Storm have plenty riding on this. It's the last home game for Cooper Cronk, Jordan McLean and Tohu Harris before the finals series; Cameron Smith will equal Darren Lockyer's record of 355 NRL games when he runs out on Saturday night. Plus, with no AFL on this weekend the Storm can showcase their brand of rugby league to some potential new fans.

The Raiders will reflect on a season of missed opportunities next week but enjoyed a thumping 46-28 win against the Knights last round, so should feel in reasonably fine fettle.

Canberra lock Iosia Soliola returns from suspension after his late hit on Billy Slater – the home fans will surely remind him – but are otherwise unchanged. The Storm have named the same 17 as their last match. 

Why the Storm can win: They've won six in a row – a combined aggregate of 210-59 – and are playing a few levels above the rest of the competition. They are basically a fully fit squad with no major injury concerns. And, if there isn't any more motivation to do well, they'll be the big sporting event in town with no AFL matches over the weekend.

Why the Raiders can win: Canberra have strong record at AAMI Park – three wins in six games – and their physical style could cause some havoc through the middle. Their attacking game remains in good working order and despite sitting in 10th place, they are third in terms of points scored in the competition.

 


The history: Played 39; Storm 28, Raiders 11. Melbourne's won four of the past five clashes but at AAMI Park, the ledger is even at 3-3. 

What are the odds: Sportsbet punters are convinced Melbourne will continue their winning run. Ninety-eight per cent of the money wagered on the match is with the Storm, and Melbourne 13+ accounts for more than all of the other winning margin options combined. Suliasi Vunivalu is as popular as ever for first try scorer. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.

Match officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assistant Referee: Dave Munro. Touch judges: Chris McMillan and Jason Walsh. Review official: Luke Patten. Senior RO: Jared Maxwell. 

Televised: Fox League – Live from 7:30pm.

NRL.com predicts: The Storm will want to improve on their performance last week – a scary thought given how complete it was – and with the motivation to finish the regular season on a high, should post a convincing win. Storm by 16.

points.