By Guest Writer Stephen Gallagher
GAME OF THE ROUND: ROUND 12 – Melbourne Storm V Brisbane Broncos – Friday, AAMI Park 19.30 local time.
LAST WEEK: Both sides got the two points, the bye was no opposition for Melbourne or Brisbane.
THIS WEEK: The Storm will be hurting, after the Cronulla Sharks put a dent on their perfect start to the season. Not accustom to losing, the Storm have another tough opponent in the Broncos. Melbourne will benefit heavily if all their Origin stars back up. No doubt they will be fatigued after what will be an encounter of epic proportions for them on Wednesday. Melbourne will be slick, and hard to handle.
Broncos fans will be nervous and excited for this one. A true tough opposition and a slight purple patch in their form has seen them drop their last two games. A win here would see those two games overlooked as they would have toppled the giants. Both sides contribute well to Origin, and for Brisbane they will be hoping their stars have not been battered too badly. This is such a crucial match for both teams, and I do not see anyone missing this unless it’s through injury.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Ruthlessness. Melbourne would have been analysing what went wrong against Cronulla. Their Big Three were shut down well by the Sharks and they will be looking for ways to avoid that. The Storm are such a clinical side, and when the pressure is on they know how to come up trumps. Don’t let a loss fool you, as they will be even bigger and better this week.
Brisbane have been somewhat out of sorts, if you can call it that. As rare as it is to lose for this club, two in a row was unseen. They thrive on success, and that comes from starting off well. The forwards are the biggest factor for this team. They have all the experience in the world and that’s exactly what they need in this tough encounter.
THE BATTLE OF: The fullbacks. Billy Slater went head to head against his Brisbane counterpart Josh Hoffman at international level, and got one up on him with a Kangaroos win. Hoffman would love to get an upset and square the ledger. Both fearless and aggressive under the high ball. Both known try scorers too. Billy Slater is the worlds best fullback currently, and quite possibly of all time. The new kid on the block would love to show him what he’s made of. Such talents at the back and will be lighting up the offence with their brilliance.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Ryan Hinchcliffe – Unluckily missing out on New South Wales selection as the utility, he would love to prove Ricky Stuart wrong with a stand out performance.
Ben Hunt – Filling in for the injured Peter Wallace, he has a lot of talent and will be so keen to prove he is first grade material.
Will the Origin starts back up? And if so, will all of them? This is the thought on everyone’s mind, fans and coaches alike. I can’t see the Storm losing two in a row, and not at home either. Melbourne will be too strong for the Broncos. 20-10.
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