Storm In A Teacup

Billy Slater - Melbourne Storm
Billy Slater will hope to play like he did in the 2012 Grand Final. Source: Colin Whelan/AAP

Melbourne Storm Logo

Storm v Bulldogs


Saturday July 12 – 7:35 PM (AEST)




Canterbury Bulldogs NRL Logo

Not since the early 'noughties' have the Melbourne Storm  been in this predicament. Since Craig Bellamy took over the reins back in 2003, the Storm have made the finals in all but one year (2010 due to the infamous “Stormgate”, the salary cap scandal). This year, they are by far the most inconsistent team in the NRL. One week they are pummelling the Bunnies, the next they are being thrashed by the Cowboys. They need to regain some consistency because the Canterbury Bulldogs  have finally snapped a three-game losing streak. Starting off the season with seven-straight wins, the Doggies were on track for another finals appearance, but then the wheels came off and they began slipping down the ladder.

The Storm can try blame officials and short turnarounds, and whatever else they conjure up. The truth is their form this year warrants their ladder position. They have little direction at times, and their defence tends to be poor in the middle. Captain Cameron Smith does everything he can to steer the ship, but one man cannot win a football game. If they want to avoid sitting out come September, they need to band together and find the consistency which has made them such a dominant force for so many years. Bryan Norrie returns to the starting side, pushing Jordan McLean back to the bench. Tim Glasby and Joel Romelo have both been added to an extended bench.

The Doggies are back, but not how we expected. Last week we thought captain Michael Ennis and back rower Josh Jackson were both going to slot into the halves to cover for Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, who were away on Origin duty. But when T-Rex (Tony Williams) started directing players around, everyone thought he was lost. But after some solid backline movements and skilful kicks, it appeared he was there for the long-haul. Williams will happily play there again, with Josh Reynolds set to miss three weeks after taking an early guilty plea for a shoulder charge in Origin 3. Josh Morris also returns from rep duty, pushing Krisnan Inu to the wing and Drury Low to an extended bench. Reni Maitua, Damien Cook and Pat O’Hanlon make up the rest of the interchange.

These two teams have had some epic clashes dating back to 1999, when the Storm edged out the Dogs in the Semi-Finals, before eventually winning the Premiership. And who can forget the 2012 Grand Final; I’m sure Billy Slater’s ear doesn’t. Both teams have the roster to make this one another epic, if they both turn up to play.

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Toby's Tip: Doggies 1-6

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