Mon, Apr 8, 12:33am by Rob Sheeley
On Monday 8th April, Wests will make the trip down south to take on the Storm at AAMI Park at 7pm for NRL round 5 Monday night football.
The Storm will head into this match as short priced favourites as they look to create a new club record for consecutive wins (13). If they replicate their form of the last four weeks, victory here looks a mere formality.
Tigers coach Mick Potter has made some major reshuffles as he strives for a winning combination. This could be a positive move from Potter and appears better than sitting on his hands and hoping for the best.
The Storm have tightened into $3.75 in premiership betting with www.sportingbet.com.au; whilst the bagmen give the Tigers little hope at $34.00.
Storm – $1.17
Wests – $5.25
Storm 1-12 – $3.20
Storm 13+ – $1.72
Wests 1-12 – $6.50
Wests 13+ – $17.00
Storm -14.5 – $1.91
Wests +14.5 – $1.91
Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged Storm line-up from the one that defeated Brisbane last week. Bellamy has elected to name Junior Moors and Slade Griffin on an extended six man bench.
Tigers coach Mick Potter has decided a major reshuffle was in order for his team. Potter has dropped rookie half back Jacob Miller. Miller’s performances have indicated that he may not yet be ready to fill the role of an NRL number seven.
Potter’s decision on Miller’s replacement may come as a surprise for many. Veteran Braith Anasta will start at half back. The bulk of Anasta’s 261 game career has been played at either five-eighth or lock. The move should sure up the Tigers fringe defence. It will also provide an experienced hand in the play making role and a capable foil for Benji Marshall.
In a flow on from Anasta’s move, Bodene Thompson will move to the second row. Ava Seumanufagai will come onto the bench to replace Masada Iosefa.
The Storm finished 2012 with eight consecutive victories. In 2013 they have added four to that tally. This has equalled their club record for consecutive wins.
The Storm were given a run for their money last week by a tenacious Brisbane Broncos. Despite losing the lead late in the match, the Storm managed to prevail by six points.
Round 3 was a similar scenario. The Storm had managed to build a lead against the Bulldogs before staving off a late comeback.
This can be viewed two ways; Melbourne are vulnerable later in their matches or despite late challenges they still find a way to win. I tend to lean towards the latter.
The Tigers are still finding their feet under the tutelage of Mick Potter. Predictably, consistency continues to be an issue that haunts the Tigers.
After a thirty two point loss to the Knights in Round 1, the Tigers won two on end (a ten point victory over Penrith, followed by a thirteen point victory over Parramatta). These are exactly the type of wins the Tigers would hope for if their season is going to be a success.
Last weekend the Tigers were shut out by Manly, 26-0. The Tigers looked disjointed for long periods during that match, something that Potter would hope the reshuffle alleviates.
For the Storm, the keys are simple; play with the same consistency and deadly execution that they have for the first four rounds.
For the Tigers, plans on how to beat the Storm would see the coaches whiteboard covered in ink.
To be any chance at all, the first battle the Tigers have to at least compete in will be in the forwards. The smaller, less experienced Tigers pack will need to do everything they can to match up with the Storm.
The performances of Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah and Adam Blair will be vital for the Tigers. The experience of players like Liam Fulton and Eddy Pettybourne will also play a major role if they are to be competitive.
The experience and guile of Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Cameron Smith provide a large part of the platform that is the basis for the Storms success. Prop forwards Jesse Bromwich and Bryan Norrie have been in career best form and the depth provided by players such as Jason Ryles is superb.
If the Tigers allow the Storm to wrest any momentum at all from them, the repercussions could be catastrophic.
The form half back of the game, Cooper Cronk, will be poised to orchestrate his backline to take advantage of any opportunities they are afforded. On top of that, Cronk’s kicking game has been all but flawless so far in 2013.
Taking a closer look at the artillery that Cronk has at his disposal reveals an embarrassment of riches. Classy English five eighth, Gareth Widdop, has been in such great form that the overused term “the big three” for Melbourne is fast becoming known as “the big four”.
Storm centre Will Chambers is making the most of every opportunity and looks as dangerous as he has for some time. Chamber’s centre partner Junior Sa’u looks a rejuvenated player in the purple jumper and is having a season to remember.
Then there is Billy Slater. One of the most talented and tenacious players of the modern era, Slater continues to wow fans by producing the seemingly impossible time and time again.
On paper this looks a total mismatch, it is hard to envisage anything but the Storm running away with this.
Storm by 18.
The Storm at the line (-14.5) looks a reasonable bet at $1.91.
Looking at a couple of nice exotics, Will Chambers is $11 to score first.
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