The Tigers begin life without Jason Taylor with a difficult assignment against the league leaders this Sunday afternoon.
Suburban footy doesn’t get much better than heading to Leichhardt Oval on a Sunday arvo but the Tigers will be hoping they put in a far better performance than the last time they played there.
Wests Tigers go into this match off consecutive heavy defeats including a 46-6 thumping to Canberra last week.
Melbourne are just one of two unbeaten teams heading into Round 4 and left it late to keep that record intact, scraping home 14-12 against the Broncos last Thursday week.
A NEW ERA
Jason Taylor is now gone so you can expect some sort of lift from the Tigers heading into Sunday’s game.
The old adage used to be that when a team sacks their coach they invariably win the following week but in recent times, that hasn’t been the case. Five of the past six teams that have done so have actually lost their next match.
Regardless, Wests Tigers fans will be hoping that their side can lift significantly following embarrassing 34 and 40 point losses in recent weeks. The last time the Tigers played at Leichhardt was for Robbie Farah’s farewell and that didn’t turn out great either back in Round 26 last season. It resulted in a 42-point defeat at the hands of Canberra.
Craig Bellamy has a few more headaches than usual this week after losing Cameron Munster and tryscoring machine Suliasi Vunivalu.
Munster is out for up to six weeks with a broken jaw while Vunivalu is nursing a shoulder injury.
Even with those two players out the Storm still have the big three – Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, the latter returning to the field last week against the Broncos.
Recent trends have seen the Storm dominate this fixture.
Melbourne have won consecutive games against the Tigers and five of the past seven.
When it comes to playing at Leichhardt the Tigers seem to have had the better of it with two wins in the past three. In all truth and honesty it should have been three straight at the venue against the Storm but last season’s Round 7 fixture saw the home side blow it when they appeared to have it won.
It’s no secret that Melbourne don’t like playing at Leichhardt so that alone gives the Wests Tigers a chance to get their season back on track.
From what we have seen in the past two weeks though it is difficult to see the Tigers turning around such heavy defeats into a win against the Melbourne Storm.
Making the task for the Tigers even harder is the fact Melbourne’s defence is clearly the best in the competition, conceding an average of 9.3 points per game so far in 2017.
While Bellamy’s men are the best in defence their attack is surprisingly the third worst in the competition! Only the bottom two sides, NZ Warriors and Wests Tigers, have scored less points.
Expect the Tigers to show some sort of fight here because no one likes to be thrashed, especially in consecutive weeks. Now with Taylor gone, and the likes of Jamal Idris and Matt Ballin back from injury, they could be capable of springing an upset but you would want to take generous odds about it happening.
Maybe the way to go is for the Tigers at the Line (+6) which is returning $2 with bet365.
MATCH WINNER TIP: MELBOURNE
FIRST TRYSCORER: KEVIN NAIQAMA – has a liking for Leichhardt Oval with five tries in six games there
MARGIN BETTING: MELBOURNE 1-12
OTHER TIP: WESTS TIGERS / MELBOURNE HALF-FULL DOUBLE