Cameron Smith is the man the save the Storms season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Dragons v Storm
Monday June 30 – 7:05 PM (AEST)
Last time these two teams met the finish was riddled with controversy. Back in Round 6 this year, the St George-Illawarra Dragons were on the verge of causing a major upset over the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park. But once again another refereeing blunder cost a team the match. With the final siren going off in the background, the Storm were allowed one more play and that was all they needed to snatch the victory out of the Dragons hands.
Melbourne has had one of its worst starts to a season in almost a decade. Usually by this time of the year, Storm are sitting pretty in the Top 4. But after winning only 8 out of their 14 games so far, they are at the bottom of a congested Top 8. Lucky for the visitors, their big name players have begun to step up. Last week against the Eels, Billy Slater was on fire. His support play was sensational, and his passing game was pin-point. Cameron Smith was as reliable as ever, controlling the speed of the game and damaging in the middle. Ryan Hoffman returns for his first game after winning the State of Origin series almost a fortnight ago, dropping Jordan McLean to the bench. Bryan Norrie also returns to the fray, with Tohu Harris taking a seat on the pine. Tim Glasby and Joel Romelo make up an extended bench.
While he hasn’t been sensational, Benji Marshall has at least kept improving since returning to the NRL. The only time game falls to pieces is when he tries to do too much. He is not the 18-year-old superstar he once was, stepping past defenders as quick as lightning. But Marshall still has the skill to be a superstar at 29, he just needs to play his normal game, and not overplay his hand. His combination on the right side with Josh Dugan is starting to flourish. While Dugan has been one of the elite fullbacks for some time, he is developing into a class centre, who defends well in the line and runs perfect angles off his halves. Trent Merrin will miss Monday night’s game with a niggling ankle injury, with Jack de Belin retaining his spot at lock. Dan Hunt and Jack Stockwell have both been named on an extended bench.
Round 6 will be in the back of everyone’s mind when these two sides take the field. With the Storm beginning to hit some form, it will be a tough task for the Dragons to get the victory at home.
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