Storm Try To Weather Smith's Withdrawal

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Cameron Smith will miss the game against the Tigers with an eye injury. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Round 5, 2013 – Melbourne Storm 26 d Wests Tigers 12 at AAMI Park
Round 26, 2012 – Melbourne Storm 26 d Wests Tigers 6 at Leichhardt Oval
Round 14, 2012 – Wests Tigers 10 d Melbourne Storm 6 at AAMI Park
Round 15, 2011 – Melbourne Storm 12 d Wests Tigers 4 at Leichhardt Oval
Round 25, 2010 – Wests Tigers 26 d Melbourne Storm 14 at Leichhardt Oval

Current Form

  Rd 11    Rd 12    Rd 13    Rd 14    Rd 15 
Tigers

W

-

W

L

 

Storm

W

-

W

W

 


Few teams feel the brunt of the representative season as much as Melbourne . Storm’s ‘big three’ might have celebrated squaring the Origin series on Wednesday night, but Cameron Smith won’t be backing up against the Tigers on Saturday after he was poked in the eye just before the headline-grabbing melee midway through the second half.

With Gareth Widdop gone for the season after hip surgery, Storm fans got a glimpse of the future with debutant Ben Hampton starring on debut with a brace of tries. The utility hasn’t been handed Widdop’s No. 6 jersey, though, with veteran Brett Finch slotting in to the role.

Wests Tigers showed plenty of grit in their 17-12 win over noted poor traveller Canberra at Campbelltown last weekend. Out-of-form half Benji Marshall showed a couple of signs he could emerge from the doldrums, while injury-prone centre Chris Lawrence came off the bench as he returns from a hamstring injury. After losing seven straight, the Tigers have now picked up three wins in their last four starts.

1st Tryscorer

It is no coincidence that the Tigers have started winning matches since young flyer David Nofoaluma found his way in to the side. He has four tries in just five NRL matches, including a double against Penrith in round 13.

Maurice Blair has never quite managed to lock down a permanent spot since coming to the Storm from Penrith in 2011. He’s finally getting a run of games this season and has shown he has a nose for the tryline. Prior to Monday night’s match on the Gold Coast, he had crossed the whitewash in Melbourne’s previous four matches.

Prediction

Melbourne comes in to the match on just a five-day break after going down to the Titans on Monday night, and with Smith out, the premiers will have three players backing up from Origin. Craig Bellamy must be thanking his lucky stars that he has Finch as insurance in the halves this season after Widdop’s shocking injury. Not many teams come to Leichhardt Oval and leave with the two points, but Melbourne has managed that the past two seasons, allowing the Tigers to score just 10 points in those games. Mick Potter’s team has won 12 of its past 15 at the venue, though, so they shouldn’t be discounted, especially with a couple of recent wins under their belt. The Tigers were very competitive in their previous clash this season in the Victorian capital, with the hosts only pulling away in the final 20 to run out 26-12 winners . Melbourne by 6 points .

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