Sat, May 18, 12:39pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: Melbourne Storm vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – NRL Round 10
When/Where: 7:00pm Monday, 20th May at AAMI Park
Where to Bet on Storm vs Sea Eagles: www.Bet365.com
Two weeks ago we were talking up the chances of the Storm breaking the record for consecutive wins. They have now lost two in a row and coach Craig Bellamy is questioning their passion for the game. They take on Manly who only suffered their third defeat for 2013 last Monday night.
The Storm were on the wrong end of upset of the season last Sunday night when they lost 12-10 to the Panthers. They looked flat and lacked defensive intensity. It may be possible that the long pre season, which included the World Club Challenge in the U.K, may be catching up with the Melbourne players. They have now dropped to third on the ladder but remain competition favourites at $4.00.
The Sea Eagles met an in form Roosters last Monday and were out gunned in a quality match by 16-4. This match won’t be any easier but they will be smarting from that defeat and keen to atone having lost two of their last three matches. Manly are fourth on the ladder and rated as $7 premiership chances.
Melbourne coach Bellamy has named the same squad that lost to Penrith last week with Lagi Setu added to an extended bench.
1. Billy Slater
2. Sisa Waqa
3. Will Chambers
4. Justin O’Neill
5. Mahe Fonua
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Bryan Norrie
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Tohu Harris
14. Jason Ryles
15. Junior Moors
16. Maurice Blair
17. Slade Griffin
18. Lagi Setu
Melbourne dished out what was unquestionably their worst performance of 2013 last weekend when they were defeated by Penrith. The Melbourne side were coming off their first loss in sixteen matches and had every reason to perform. Yet they looked flat and lacking that killer edge we are so accustomed to. Eventually they went down by just two points (12-10) in a game they were expected to win easily.
A week earlier the Melbourne Storm lost their first match for 2013 at the hands of the Canberra Raiders. After slipping behind midway through the second half, it appeared as though the Storm were again going to find a way to win as they came home with a late charge. In an uncharacteristic last ten minutes, the Storm took some poor options and failed to execute when it came to delivering the killer blows.
Prior to that, in Round 7 we witnessed all the tenacity, class and sheer will to win that we have become accustomed to from the Storm. Appearing down and out, Melbourne found an extra gear in the last ten minutes and not only eclipsed the Warriors but ran away to win by ten points (28-18).
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Round 6 saw the Storm face their biggest test for the season when they took on the only other undefeated side in the competition, South Sydney. Melbourne were clinical in that match and showed the professionalism that has made them into both the Premiers and World Club Champions.
It’s far from a crisis for the Storm but they are meeting much tougher opposition that they have in the last two weeks in this one. They will need to be infinitely better than last week to win this.
The Sea Eagles have also named a five-man bench, with Tom Symonds joined by James Hasson.
1. Peta Hiku
2. Jorge Taufua
3. Jamie Lyon (c)
4. Steve Matai
5. David Williams
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Brenton Lawrence
9. Matt Ballin
10. Brent Kite
11. Anthony Watmough
12. Justin Horo
13. Glenn Stewart
14. David Gower
15. Tom Symonds
16. Jamie Buhrer
17. George Rose
21. James Hasson
The Sea Eagles were outplayed by a red hot Roosters outfit last weekend. Despite playing against just twelve men for the last ten minutes they could not deliver a knockout blow and went down by twelve points (16-4). In their defence, the Sea Eagles were missing a few regulars and were far from disgraced.
A week earlier, the Sea Eagles survived some anxious moments to eventually overcome the Dragons and register another victory. After appearing to be dominant in the first half and going to the break leading 18-4, the Sea Eagles let the Dragons back into the match. Late in the game the Dragons had clawed back to make it 18-18 before Manly found something and scored a match winning try.
Prior to that, in Round 7, the Sea Eagles were involved in this season’s most physical encounter. Their match with the Rabbitohs was played at a frenetic pace and featured hard hitting galore. The Rabbitohs prevailed to win 20-12 on a night where not much went right for Manly.
The Round 7 encounter will be remembered for the foul play as much as anything else. The Sea Eagles were predominantly the perpetrators in this respect and it certainly didn’t help their winning chances.
Make no mistake that the Sea Eagles are a top contender for the premiership title in 2013. A superb combination of youth and experience sits them in good stead and the proof is showing in their results. They have a pack that thrives on physicality and with this being a grudge match it should suit that Manly style of play.
This match will be a real test of the resilience of the Melbourne Storm. The Storm have looked flat in their last two outing and uncharacteristically lacked defensive intensity. Expect it to return for a grudge match like this one.
The Sea Eagles forwards were out muscled for one of the first times this season last week and that may well of dented a few egos. Players of the quality of Anthony Watmough and Brent Kite will have a point to prove this week, watch for them to feature heavily in the tough stuff department.
The Melbourne Storm’s little General, Cooper Cronk has not been has dominant in the past two weeks as he had earlier in 2013. A player of his champion quality will be champing at the bit to return to his best and play a lead role in this contest.
These bigger games always seem to bring out the very best in Melbourne’s super star fullback Billy Slater. Slater has performed rugby league feats we had thought were humanly impossible and it would not surprise to see some more Slater wizardry in this game.
Both benches will play key roles in this match. Manly may have an edge in experience via Jamie Buhrer and Tom Symonds. Their contributions, when required will be critical to the fortunes of their team. Jason Ryles is the key bench man for the Storm, his experience could prove a pivotal factor at some stage in this game.
This may well be one of the best halves battles all season. Manly’s fearsome combination of Daly Cherry-Evans and Keiran Foran is close to the competition benchmark. While the Storm’s Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdop would be considered in the upper echelon as well. It is games like this that the class players stand up and make their names it could be any of the aforementioned quartet that star.
Coming off back to back losses, including an embarrassing one last week, the Storm will be hurting. They get an opportunity to restore some faith in their fans at AAMI Park. I’m basing my selection on the old adage that says “form is temporary, class is permanent” and going with the boys in purple. Storm by 8.
Head to Head Betting Odds
Storm – $4.45
Sea Eagles –$2.80
Storm 1-12 – $3.10
Storm 13+ – $2.65
Sea Eagles 1-12 – $4.25
Sea Eagles 13+ – $6.15
Storm -6.5 – $1.91
Sea Eagles +6.5 – $1.91
Melbourne look a little too short in the head to head market but the margin price appears more enticing. The Storm are currently $3.10 to win 1-12 with Bet365.com.
The Storm at the line (-6.5) for a return of $1.91 also looks worthy of an investment.
For first try scorer, I’m tipping the Melbourne Storm winger Mahe Fonua at $11.
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