By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: FINALS WEEK 2 – Melbourne Storm V Newcastle Knights – Saturday, AAMI Park. 19.45 local time, 21.45NZT.
LAST WEEK: Melbourne were outplayed, and they looked a little shaky losing 20-10 to the Rabbitohs.
Newcastle ended the season for the Canterbury boys with an emphatic 22-6 scoreline.
THIS WEEK: Being back home is what the Storm fans would want after a loss, and the Storm players will happily take this game at home. A tired looking Storm outfit last week, and so this week perhaps a fresh approach to training will let Bellyache’s boys be mentally ready for a do-or-die clash. One of the best teams on paper, they should be performing at their peak.
I guess you could say last week’s victory over the Bulldogs was an upset of some sorts, but not for this team. Bennett has underplayed his hand with this side, until they pulled off a near perfect performance on Sunday. Any chance to ruffle the feathers of their opponents this week and they may find themselves playing for a spot in the Grand Final next week.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Gotta lay it all out on the line, there’s no second chances so leaving it all in the field is the only option. Big game here, with the current Premiers wanting to fight for the right to retain their title. I think there’s going to be a lot of players standing up, who were a little behind last weekend. There’s leadership all over this team, so there’s ample opportunity to get the ball rolling from the first set of six.
Newcastle are the under dogs no doubt about it, and having to travel down to Melbourne will be a daunting task. However, with a win on the board they will have some confidence in their ability to win big games under pressure. None more so than this one. It’s too close to say just how well the Knights will go, but if they just worry about what they’re doing it could be a good sign.
THE BATTLE OF: Wise Heads. Cameron Smith is the player you want on your team when the game goes down to the wire. His experience in success is second-to-none. A true legend of the game.
Danny Buderus has had one helluva career. Every time he steps on to the field, he is there to do one job and that’s everything he can. Whether it’s tackling or darting out of dummy half, Bedsy has always had the x-factor.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Ryan Hinchcliffe – Slots in just about anywhere in this team, and will do his very best at any role given to him. A player that adapts easily to any situation. Very handy.
James McManus – He’s been scoring plenty of tries for the Blue n Red’s this season, and has been quality all season, so it’s going to be interesting to see just how he performs in the biggest game of the year.
The Storm to win. This game is going to be won where it counts, up front. I feel that the Storm will deliver a wholesome performance which will keep them in this competition. 20-6
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