Mon, Mar 24, 12:37pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: Melbourne Storm vs. Newcastle Knights – NRL Round 2.
When/Where: 7:00pm, Monday 24th March at AAMI Park
AUD $100 Free Bet: www.IASbet.com
That is the scenario for Monday night’s Round Three clash between the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights.
The Knights, who are without a win, have drifted to $29 in premiership betting on the back of their average form and high injury toll.
The Storm have shown that they still have a knack for winning matches, no matter how close or how impossible they appear.
The Storm will start a prohibitively-short-priced favourite for this match, but they look to be a very sound investment. There is no such thing as a good-thing, but they are as close as it gets.
The Knights are desperate to rack up their first competition points of the season, but they face the toughest road-trip in the NRL this week and it will be a minor miracle for them to win here.
With that in mind, this is the venue that holds some very fond recent memories for the Novocastrians. It is at AAMI Park that they ended the season of the Melbourne Storm last year, however, their early 2014 season form is not even close to comparable to late last season.
While commitment is not a problem for the Knights, casualties are. None more so than their chief playmaker Jarrod Mullin, who’s void in the halves is proving hard to fill. Add to that the absence of former Churchill medallist Darius Boyd and the Knights appear a little under-staffed.
The Melbourne Storm are almost the polar opposite in that respect. Star half Cooper Cronk returned last week and Billy Slater is nearing full fitness, which all points towards the Storm being back to their devastating best.
The Storm have a good record over the Knights historically with 18 wins to Newcastle’s 13. The Knights have struggled at AAMI Park, winning just one of their six appearances there.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has selected an unchanged 17 for this week’s clash.
1. Billy Slater
2. Sisa Waqa
3. Will Chambers
4. Mahe Fonua
5. Young Tonumaipea
6. Ben Hampton
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Bryan Norrie
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
14. Kenny Bromwich
15. Tohu Harris
16. Jordan McLean
17. George Rose
Fighting character will get you a long way in a sport where teams are so evenly matched. The Storm have exhibited it in spades over the past fortnight, which augurs well for the 2014 season.
They came back from the brink against the Panthers last weekend to win 18-17 after doing the same the week before against Manly. This week they will turn their attention towards delivering a more explosive, complete-game performance.
Billy Slater is nearing peak fitness and, at his best, is one of the greatest we have seen in many years. This could be his breakout match in 2014. I think the bet on him to score at any time during the match at $1.72 at Sportsbet.com.au is well worth a punt.
Jesse Bromwich has been a real lynch-pin for the Storm pack so far this season. He will be the big man who creates inroads for their classy backs.
Cameron Smith is simply on another level to many players. He almost single-handedly hauled the Storm to victory last week. He is their go-to man.
The Knights have also named an unchanged team from the one that lost to the Raiders last weekend, with David Fa’alogo being aded to the squad as 18th man.
1. Darius Boyd
2. James McManus
3. Joey Leilua
4. Dane Gagai
5. Akuila Uate
6. Jarrod Mullen
7. Tyrone Roberts
8. David Fa’alago
9. Danny Buderus
10. Willie Mason
11. Robbie Rochow
12. Beau Scott
13. Jeremy Smith
14. Matt Hilder
15. Chris Houston
16. Neville Costigan
17. Alex McKinnon
18. David Fa’alogo
Newcastle suffered a loss at home to the Raiders last weekend. That is something relatively unheard of in recent times.
The Knights are struggling to overcome the loss of Jarrod Mullin, but it is a long-term problem that they are going to have to move past sooner rather than later. They were convincingly-beaten by the Panthers in round one and were not much better against Canberra – that makes this task look almost insurmountable.
Tyrone Roberts is a young, up-and-coming half with enough experience in the top grade to stamp his authority on a match. He will need to take a few games by the scruff of the neck and dominate if the Knights are to start tasting success.
His halves partner Michael Dobson, is a calming influence, but also one who will feed off Robert. This is a pairing that the Knights need to blossom in the next few weeks.
Beau Scott is probably the Knights best at the moment. The enforcer will be needed more than ever against an imposing Melbourne forward pack.
|Bet on Storm vs. Knights|
|$100 Free Bet for New Punters|
After two very close matches, the Storm look ready to unleash their class on a hapless opposition; the Knights fit that bill perfectly.
The home-ground advantage, the class-edge right across the park, the sheer will to win and the fact that they are close to full strength means this could get ugly for the Knights.
My prediction is Storm by 14
Storm – $1.28 @ Sportsbet.com.au
Knights – $3.75
Sure they are short, but they look like good things. This is a put in/take out proposition and worthy of a good bet.
Storm 1-12 – $2.85
Storm 13+ – $2.15 with Sportingbet.com.au and Centrebet.com
Knights 1-12 – $4.50
Knights 13+ – $13.00
The Storm could really put a big score on the Knights in this one. If anything the prediction of 14 errs on the side of conservatism. They’re well worth a bet to win by 13+ at $2.15.
Storm -10.5 – $1.92 with Sportsbet.com.au and IASbet.com
Knights +10.5 – $1.92
The Storm should have no problem covering the spread in this game. The line of 10.5 points will not be enough to hold the Storm back. This is another solid bet.
If betting on the first try-scorer is up your alley, then I’d go for the Storm’s super-winger Sisa Waqa. Waqa is currently $8 across the board with bookies.
If you prefer a Knights player to score first, I’d recommend James McManus at $12.
Billy Slater to score at anytime during the match at $1.72 looks a great bet too.
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