Every time the Warriors look like they might be slipping, they silence their critics by bouncing back with a committed effort like they one they produced against the Broncos.
Their comprehensive 26-6 win boosted their record to 11-6 - the same as the Roosters, Panthers and Sharks. On Sunday they host the reigning premiers and will be aiming to atone for a 50-10 thrashing from the Storm in round eight.
A spare parts Melbourne had to dig deep to scrape home against Manly last week and Craig Bellamy will be glad he doesn't have to see the Sea Eagles again this year. The Storm should have Billy Slater and Cameron Munster back on deck after they were rested last week.
Key match-up: Cameron Munster is expected to return, giving the Storm an edge over Warriors youngster Mason Lino, who comes in for Blake Green. But Jahrome Hughes is the man who will have to bring his A-game against Warriors maestro Shaun Johnson. If Hughes handles the occasion then the Storm can win well.
For the Warriors to win: Considering his team's ordinary form at home (4-4) and head-turning away record (7-2), coach Stephen Kearney should book the Warriors into an Auckland hotel for the night to try and create that feeling of being together on the road. Seriously, they should give it a try.
For the Storm to win: The return of Munster and Slater will provide a massive boost, giving the Storm considerably more options in attack than they had against Manly last week. If they tame the Warriors big men and get inside the heads of Johnson and Green, the Storm will have too much firepower out wide.
Warriors Stat Attack: David Fusitu'a is ranked second amongst try-scorers in the Telstra Premiership this season with 15, one behind South Sydney's Robert Jennings, and he has a great record against Melbourne in particular with six tries in six games against the Storm.
Storm Stat Attack: Not only do the Warriors have a poor home record but the Storm also have a great away record recently, winning their past five on the road.
And another thing: The Warriors will like their chances if the game is tied late, with Shaun Johnson leading the NRL in field goals (4). The New Zealanders also lead the competition in offloads (223), while it might come as a surprise that the normally polished Storm have committed the most handling errors (83).
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Storm is number 1 Billy Slater
Winger for Warriors is number 2 David Fusitu'aWinger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Gerard BealeCentre for Storm is number 3 Will Chambers
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Solomone KataCentre for Storm is number 4 Curtis Scott
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 18 Mason LinoFive-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Storm is number 18 Jahrome Hughes
Prop for Warriors is number 8 James GavetProp for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Issac LukeHooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Agnatius PaasiProp for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Simon Mannering2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Ryan Hoffman
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Adam BlairLock for Storm is number 13 Kenneath Bromwich
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaInterchange for Storm is number 15 Tim Glasby
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Tevita SataeInterchange for Storm is number 16 Christian Welch
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Joseph VunaInterchange for Storm is number 19 Joe Stimson
Interchange for Warriors is number 21 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Storm is number 20 Dale Finucane
Warriors: Mason Lino is in for Blake Green (rib injury), while Bunty Afoa has been promoted from the reserves to the bench at the expense of Karl Lawton. Anthony Gelling was cut an hour prior to kick-off.
Storm: Billy Slater and Cam Munster are back, while Jahrome Hughes will play halfback in jersey No.18, with Brodie Croft dropping out. Dale Finucane returns on the bench after recovering from a broken thumb. Cheyse Blair and Brandon Smith were omitted an hour before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 41; Storm 23 wins, Warriors 16 wins, 2 draws
Previous result: Storm won 50-10 at AAMI Park in round 8
Points per game: Warriors 19.6; Storm 23.5
Points conceded per game: Warriors 19.1; Storm 15.6
Televised: Live on Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: These two sides have a great rivalry and both are coming off wins. In fact, the Storm have won five on the trot and they are looking ominous, even if Manly did push them to the limit. Melbourne are a very clinical outfit and they travel well so playing in New Zealand won't phase them. The Warriors were impressive in Brisbane but I favour the Storm in a quality clash.
Tip: Storm by 8
Match: Warriors v Storm
Round 19 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
- LIVE PASS
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