Now is the time to see whether or not Parramatta is a genuine premiership contender.
The Eels have swept into the finals series on a high with nine wins from their past 10 matches but face their biggest test to date by having to travel to AAMI Park to take on the minor premiers.
Parramatta rounded out their preparation for the finals by winning 22-16 against the Rabbitohs and secured fourth spot in the process.
Melbourne have charged into the finals series and were the clear standouts during the regular season, winning the Minor Premiership by six points from the Sydney Roosters.
They played their final match at home last week and easily handled the Canberra Raiders 32-6.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
MELBOURNE’s dominance of the regular season is highlighted by their For and Against stats.
Boasting a whopping +297 points differential after 26 rounds, Melbourne were the only team in the competition to top 600 points for the season by getting to 633. This gave them an average of 26.38 points per game.
Defence was also key to their success with just 336 points conceded – the only team in the comp that leaked less than 400 points.
Craig Bellamy’s side come into this match having won seven straight matches, however, the past four teams to do so entering the finals series failed to make the Grand Final. They were the Raiders of last year, Roosters in 2015, Tigers in 2011 and the 2005 Dragons.
PARRAMATTA is back in the finals for the first time since 2009.
Coincidentally their last finals game was the Grand Final of that season that they eventually lost to Melbourne 23-16. That was the season of the ‘Hayne Plane’, where Parramatta won seven of their final eight games to reach the semis before causing a few more upsets to get into the Grand Final from eighth spot.
Tim Mannah is the only survivor from the 2009 Grand Final side while Melbourne’s side which was eventually stripped of the premiership contained Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
The Eels have done a fantastic job to finish as high as they have with their spiritual home of Pirtek Stadium being demolished earlier this year. The team had no perceived ‘home ground advantage’ and yet still went 8-4 in home games.
What has made their run into the top four even more remarkable is their run of away form which sees Parramatta shooting for six straight road wins for the first time since 1999.
That alone could be worth having a few dollars on them at a big price to win here ($5 @ bet365).
The stats tell one story but if you dig a little deeper you will find another.
Parramatta has won two of the past three clashes between the sides including their Round 18 clash at AAMI Park 22-6, however, that was when Melbourne were missing a host of players to State Of Origin commitments.
If you take out the times that Melbourne has been Origin effected then it reads that the Storm has won six of the past seven against the Blue and Golds.
As mentioned earlier, these sides haven’t met in a final since the 2009 decider but in three previous postseason matches it has been Melbourne that has claimed the honours as well.
MELBOURNE have been the team to beat for the premiership for a good portion of the season and we think they will take a big step towards achieving that with a win here.
They are extremely short in Head-to-Head betting but it is easy to see why.
Bellamy’s men have turned AAMI Park into a fortress this season with just two losses at the venue in 11 matches with one of those against Parramatta and the other against Cronulla. The latter of those matches is the only time Melbourne has been kept tryless all season.
The Storm has won their past four games at the venue by an average of just over 30 points which sets a formidable task for Parramatta to overcome.
We suggest using the Storm as anchor for your multi bets and searching a bit wider for value in other markets too. The First Tryscorer market is always popular and Suliasi Vunivalu is a tremendous $7 @ bet365.
The Storm has scored the first try on 16 occasions this season with the league leading tryscorer responsible for six of those.
SULIASI VUNIVALU FIRST TRYSCORER