Tigers v Storm: Wests flying, bans hit premiers
Many would have expected the Melbourne Storm to be on cloud nine heading into round five but instead they are left licking their wounds after a poor performance in last Friday's loss to the Cronulla Sharks.
Meanwhile the Wests Tigers continue to be a surprise packet this season. Very few could have foreseen their start to the year but with a newfound resolve, the Tigers are no easy beats this year and could surprise the Storm for a second time this season.
While the visitors are coming off the back of their most impressive attacking display of the year in Monday's win over Parramatta, the Storm have been hit with a double blow of Will Chambers copping a two-match suspension while Dale Finucane is both suspended and sidelined for a month with a fractured thumb.
Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm, 5pm Saturday (3pm AET) at Mt Smart Stadium
The key match-up: Russell Packer v Jesse Bromwich. The Kiwi Test teammates had a royal rumble in round two with Packer getting a points decision. Packer seems to relish the extra workload and responsibility of co-captaining the Tigers. It's up to Bromwich to step up again after a flat few performances by his side to start the season.
For the Tigers to win:Repeat their game plan that has served them so well this year. Score points, steely defence, repeat. Their dominating 30-20 win against the Parramatta Eels on Monday night was a perfect example of doing enough to win early and then holding off a fast-finishing side. Tuimoala Lolohea's return and Benji Marshall's form at five-eighth will help their chances.
For the Storm to win:Hold the ball. Storm coach Craig Bellamy led an over-time review session on Monday and focused on cleaning up errors and discipline. There's enough all-round quality in the team to score points, but they need a confident all-round game on Saturday night.
Tigers Stat Attack:The Ivan Cleary-coached side racked up seven line breaks and 39 tackle busts against the Eels. It points to a team who is confident in attack.
Storm Stat Attack:Conceding 19 penalties and completing 27 of 42 sets 'ain't good', as their coach would say. They need their halves to take control and the forward pack to get positive when the pressure ramps up.
And another thing:The Storm have started a season with a two-win, two-loss record on five occasions. The last time – in 2015 – they went on to make the preliminary finals.
The prediction: Tigers by 8.
Match: Wests Tigers vs Storm
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Wests Tigers: 1 Tuimoala Lolohea, 2 Corey Thompson, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer (c), 9 Pita Godinet, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Robbie Rochow, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange: 14 Jacob Liddle, 15 Alex Twal, 16 Michael Chee Kam, 17 Josh Aloiai
Reserves: 20 David Nofoaluma, 21 Sauaso Sue
Wests Tigers are unchanged from an impressive Easter Monday win over the Eels, with star recruit Josh Reynolds at least one more week away. Tyson Gamble and Tim Grant were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Young Tonumaipea, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Joe Stimson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenny Bromwich
Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Tim Glasby, 16 Christian Welch, 17 Sam Kasiano
Reserves: 18 Justin Olam, 21 Felise Kaufusi
Young Tonumaipea replaces Will Chambers (suspension) at centre and Kenny Bromwich comes in at lock for Dale Finucane (who is both injured and suspended). Felise Kaufusi is included in the reserves. Ryley Jacks and Patrick Kaufusi were omitted 24 hours before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 30; Storm 19 wins, Wests Tigers 11 wins
Matches at venue: No matches at Mt Smart Stadium
2017 results: Storm won 22-14 at Leichhardt Oval in round 4
Points per game: Wests Tigers 14.3; Storm 19.5
Points conceded per game: Wests Tigers 11.3; Storm 14
Televised: Live on Fox League