Storm Look To Repeat Grand Final Heroics

Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au
Cooper Cronk was at his best against the Cowboys last week. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Grand Final 2012 – Melbourne Storm 14 d Canterbury Bulldogs 4 at ANZ Stadium
Round 16 2012 – Canterbury Bulldogs 20 d Melbourne Storm 4 at Virgin Australia Stadium
Round 7 2012 – Melbourne Storm 12 d Canterbury Bulldogs 6 at AAMI Park
Round 18 2011 – Melbourne Storm 28 d Canterbury Bulldogs 18 at Adelaide Oval
Round 4 2011 – Melbourne Storm 30 d Canterbury Bulldogs 16 at AAMI Park

Current Form (most recent first)

Storm – WW
Bulldogs – WL

Melbourne Storm  will be out to continue its recent domination of the Bulldogs  when the two clubs open round three of the 2013 season with a replay of last year’s grand final at AAMI Park. Not only have the Storm won four of the past five meetings between the clubs, but they have also started the new campaign in the devastating form that saw that win the premiership last year. Despite being charged with dangerous contact for his hit that knocked Antonio Winterstein out in the 32-10 win over North Queensland last weekend, Billy Slater will line up for the Storm after accepting an early guilty plea. Siosaia Vave is unavailable after being given a one game ban for the same charge, with Junior Moors taking his place on the bench, while Junior Sa’u replaces the injured Justin O’Neill at right centre.

The Bulldogs got back to winning form with their 20-16 win over the Eels last weekend but there is still plenty of room for improvement from last year’s minor premiers. High profile recruit Tony Williams has been criticised for his performances so far this season and coach Des Hasler will expect more from him. Mitch Brown was a last minute inclusion for Steve Turner last week and will again line up on the wing following the latter’s retirement. Melbourne are preparing for Ben Barba to play despite the fact that he wasn't named by the Bulldogs.

1st Tryscorer

After missing most of the pre-season through injury, Melbourne winger Matt Duffie is starting to get back to his best. He scored 10 tries in just 17 matches last season and will be ready to find his best form with two matches under his belt.

Josh Morris was the standout centre in the NRL last season but has failed to make the same impact in the opening two rounds. He was on the scoresheet against the Storm last season and will fancy his chances of getting across the line against Melbourne debutant Junior Sa’u.

Prediction – It is hard to believe that Melbourne would be such short favourites in the grand final replay but they have easily been the best team so far this year, having dismissed the well fancied Cowboys by 22 points on Saturday night. With Melbourne’s ‘big three’ firing and the Dogs still without James Graham, Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano, the Storm look set to record fifth win from six matches against Canterbury in what is likely to be a low scoring  affair. Melbourne Storm 1-12

Click here to bet on NRL Round 3 matches