These sides always put on a show and that won’t be any different on Saturday afternoon.
And although the Sea Eagles and Storm have caught the headlines on numerous occasions already this season they actually come into this off the back of defeats as favourites.
Manly were expected to cool the heels of the Dragons at Lottoland last week but instead it was the Red V who bought the Sea Eagles back down to earth with a crushing 35-10 win. Meanwhile, Melbourne were the last team in the competition to suffer defeat and it happened in the Grand Final rematch at AAMI Park where they fell to the Sharks 11-2.
Manly’s sensational run of form was extinguished at the hands of the Dragons last week.
Granted they had a contentious call go against them early but after that they were never in the hunt as the Stgeorge Illawarra attack tore through their previously rock solid defence.
Prior to that game they had conceded just 20 points in three games while scoring 84 points.
UNBEATEN NO MORE
Melbourne suffered their first loss of the season against their Grand Final nemesis.
In driving rain and poor conditions, Cronulla finally broke through for a try late in the game when they had a precarious 3-2 lead at the time.
You have to go back a fair while to see a Craig Bellamy-trained side being held scoreless, however, it shouldn’t come as a surprise because Melbourne’s attack hasn’t exactly been firing despite winning five straight games to start the season. Averaging just 17.33ppg, only the Bulldogs, Tigers and Eels have scored less and what’s remarkable is that the Knights, who are bottom, have scored the exact amount of points as them!
The Storm defence is what has won them their early season games and concedes a league-best 9.83ppg.
The rivalry between the sides which took in two Grand Finals is still quite fresh today.
MELBOURNE has won three of the past five outings but most of their recent clashes have been very tight affairs. In fact, six of their past nine contests have been decided by four points or less with the other three blowouts by 20 points or more.
When it comes to games at Brookvale (Lottoland) the teams have traded wins since 2011. For those wanting to have a crack at Total Points Over/Under, four of the last five games at this venue have seen an average of 48.75 points scored. The Over 38.5 here is returning $1.91 at bet365.
We smell a bit of an upset here.
Melbourne were on the ropes in Round 5 against the Tigers but managed to get their way out of it and a week earlier had left it late against the Broncos. While that sort of ‘never say die’ attitude can take you a long way, you cannot keep doing it forever and they were found out in a real arm wrestle against Cronulla.
One of the big marks against the Storm this season has been their sloppiness which can be perfectly highlighted by their poor completion rate of just 66.7 percent against Cronulla last week. It hasn’t been just one game, it’s been most of the year.
If you forget the performance against the Dragons, Manly are definitely up to winning this despite being outsiders ($2.50 @ Topbetta / bet365).
The only concern for the home side is that they’ve lost forward Marty Taupau but if they can negate his absence then they must be given another chance here, after all, no one likes to be thrashed so there should be some bounce-back factor here.
MANLY +4.5 LINE