By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 20 – New Zealand Warriors V Melbourne Storm – Sunday, Mount Smart Stadium. 14.00 local time.
LAST WEEK: New Zealand went up against the Tigers and delivered hugely with a come from behind 24-14 victory.
Melbourne taking their time out with a bye.
THIS WEEK: The Warriors know how to beat Melbourne. Have beaten them in some very memorable and historic clashes in the past. But, the past it the past and this is a team that needs to win against to team that knows how to win. I feel a lot of desperation will go in to this match.
Storm fans will probably be a little wary of just what the Warriors can produce, but the players who helped get their second Premiership last season will know exactly just how tough it will be playing in Auckland. A well-rested Storm outfit come in to this match.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Well when New Zealand need it the most, they can produce outstanding results. A tough side that will only win this game on the back of their defensive efforts. Their stupendous effort in the last eight weeks will count for nothing unless they can put in everything they have for this one. It will be the halves who’ll dictate this result on attack, but it’s a team effort defensively that will put a notch in the belt of the home side.
Well high spirits for the Big Three after another Queensland State Of Origin series victory. A rested side after a bye and a team wanting to crawl back up the ladder. There will be a cool, calm and collected nature to this Melbourne team and it starts at the captain. Melbourne won’t want to get roped in to the grind because they’ll be up against an equal opposition.
THE BATTLE OF: Fullback Flair: Kevin Locke knows when he needs to perform, and with no job security for 2014 this Warrior knows that every match-winning performance he can deliver from the back will be another tick in the box for his jersey next year. The fearless Locke needs to return, and be unleashed against a big Melbourne pack.
Billy Slater would admit he hasn’t had a perfect season by his standards, but there’s always that element inside him that can read off his inside men and really flourish in space. Backs himself all the way and that confidence is why he is an absolute world beater.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Manu Vatuvei – Oh, we all know Manu is the man. But does Manu know he’s the man? I’d love to see him get some barnstorming runs again this week. Back to full fitness thanks to his sports brace, his helping out off the line has been tremendous this year.
Jesse Bromwich – Is leading the Storm team around just brilliantly this season. This Kiwi youngster will have a lot to prove too when he heads to Auckland for this one.
The Warriors will win this one. Especially since they did great against the Tigers the previous week. It’s always hard to judge a team after the bye but you always know you’re getting a real match with Melbourne. Warriors by a try but their defence to win it. 18-14.
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter