Sea Eagles v Storm: Mass changes for Storm; Walker out
The fierce rivals collide on the northern beaches in what has been a forgettable campaign so far for Manly.
However, they have every reason to feel confident after beating Penrith before the bye last round, but Melbourne are flying after smashing St George Illawarra at AAMI Park.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Storm
Round 18 -
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match up: Martin Taupau v Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Teammates in Denver in June the Kiwis front-rowers will find out just how hard the other tackles. Jesse Bromwich returns after a month out with a hamstring strain to provide a little more added grunt for Storm. Who makes the most metres and off-loads could point to which side wins.
For the Sea Eagles to win: Try and limit the brilliance of Cameron Smith. The future Immortal is showing so signs of slowing down, and will be fresh following his shock representative retirement in mid-May.
For the Storm to win: Winger Suliasi Vunivalu doesn't have his co-flyer Josh Addo-Carr to help finish off the moves but Young Tonumaipea and Cheyse Blair are experienced heads coming into the Storm back five and can easily make it a long night for the Manly defence.
Sea Eagles stat attack: Props Addin-Fonua Blake (878 post-contact metres in 2018) and Taupau (868 post-contact metres) have been shining lights for their team in 2018. They will both need to produce monster performances in the engine room to conjure a shock win over the reigning premiers.
Storm stat attack: With their expansive style of play, it isn't a major surprise to see Melbourne with the most handling errors (78) in the competition. Coach Craig Bellamy will no doubt drum home the importance of on-field discipline pre-game.
And another thing: Despite being out of semi-final contention, a healthy crowd is tipped to make their way to Lottoland. The scuffle between Curtis Scott and Dylan Walker won't have been forgotten by either team, with the former likely to be met with a chorus of boos come kick-off. It has also been a decade since the unforgettable 40-0 grand final win by the Sea Eagles over the Storm, with the most famous scoreline in the club's decorated history to be on full display on the peninsula on Saturday.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm, Saturday 5.30pm at Lottoland
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Bradley Parker, 19 Thomas Wright, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Manase Fainu, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14 Trent Hodkinson, 15 Kelepi Tanginoa, 16 Frank Winterstein, 17 Taniela Paseka
In a late change an hour before kick-off, Dylan Walker is out, with Thomas Wright to start at five-eighth. The Trbojevic brothers and Daly Cherry-Evans have all been named to back up from Origin. As was as Walker being out, Jorge Taufua and Toafofoa Sipley were also ruled out an hour before kick-off. Tevita Funa and Lloyd Perrett were the two players left out 24 hours before kick-off.
Storm: 7 Jahrome Hughes, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 18 Cheyse Blair, 4 Curtis Scott, 20 Young Tonumaipea, 21 Ryley Jacks, 22 Brodie Croft, 16 Christian Welch, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 17 Joe Stimson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenny Bromwich
Interchange: 8 Jesse Bromwich, 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Tim Glasby, 19 Tui Kamikamica
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has made a mass of changes for the second time in 24 hours, so much so that just six of the starting 13 remain in the positions they were selected in on Tuesday. In the most recent moves, Felise Kaufusi joins the list of players rested after Origin. Jesse Bromwich has also moved from the starting side to the bench, with Christian Welch to start. Brodie Croft also moves into the starting side, with Jahrome Hughes and Young Tonumaipea moving to new positions. Origin players Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Josh Addo-Carr and Cameron Munster were all ruled out on Friday. Felise Kaufusi, Albert Vete and Justin Olam were the three players omitted an hour out from kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 33; Storm 18 wins, Sea Eagles 14 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Sea Eagles won 24-4 at AAMI Park in round 11
Points per game: Sea Eagles 19.9; Storm 24.1
Points conceded per game: Sea Eagles 23.4; Storm 15.8
Televised: Live on Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: It has been a season to forget for Manly, but no doubt they will rise when Melbourne make their way to Lottoland. It will have plenty of feeling but the Storm should have too much class, especially after how well they played against the Dragons last round minus their Origin players.
TIP: Storm by 10