With their big three firing, Storm's chasing three from three against Newcastle. Picture: Michael Klein/dailytelegraph.com.au
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle
Monday, March 24 – 18.05pm (AEST)
Things you need to know:
With Cooper Cronk having returned in round two, Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged 17 to face the Knights looking for a 3-0 start to the season. Matt Duffie (knee) and Travis Robinson (knee) are among the players sidelined.
For the Knights, forward David Fa'alogo has been included on a five-man bench and youngster Matt Minto retained at full-back. Newcastle are without the likes of Darius Boyd (hamstring), Jarrod Mullen (hamstring), Timana Tahu (knee) and Clint Newton (bicep).
Reason to watch:
Melbourne Storm are aiming for a third straight win to start the season and why would you pass up the opportunity to watch a team likely to feature deep into September? They have played out two one-point thrillers to kick-off their campaign, but they are likely to find it easier against the Knights than they did against Manly and Penrith. The Knights are 0-2 and near the bottom and desperately need a win to get their season going.
Reason to turn away:
This could be one-sided. Monday night's clash between Canterbury and Cronulla was and there is every chance the Melbourne-Newcastle meeting will be similar. The Knights upset the Storm in a semi-final last year but had lost the previous seven matches against Melbourne. Without five-eighth Mullen and Boyd, the Knights are likely to find it tough to avoid a third straight loss to open 2014.
"It's been a pretty good start for the whole team. I think our forwards in particular have been playing good. The coaches have been giving me a few things every week to work on and I'm definitely looking at getting better at a few things." – Storm forward Jesse Bromwich after re-signing.
The Knights finally won at AAMI Park at the perfect time – last year's semi-final – but still have a dreadful record at the venue and against the Storm. With their injuries leading to a poor start to the season, winning in Melbourne once more would be a huge achievement. Melbourne may be feeling the effects of two tough wins to start the campaign, but Bellamy will be desperate to see them capitalise on those by winning a game they are expected to. The Storm should control the contest and make it a 3-0 start. Storm by 18.
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