This will be a totally different game to the one we saw back in Round 2.
On that occasion the Warriors looked totally lost despite playing at home. Melbourne easily handled the trip to New Zealand in fine style and left with a convincing 26-10 result over the Kiwis.
This time, however, they have a guy named Kieran Foran playing in the halves and his presence has already transformed the competition’s ‘could haves’ into potential finalists.
The Warriors go into this off a 20-8 defeat to Canberra in the nation’s capital while the Melbourne Storm returned to winning ways but only just as they held off a courageous Manly fight back to win 30-26.
COULD THEY BE THE REAL DEAL?
It seems as though that question gets asked every year of NZ WARRIORS.
With Kieran Foran in the side we are prepared to say ‘yes’. Already they look a far more composed team in attack with the brilliant five-eighth only playing three games so far.
In his first two games, New Zealand racked up 28 and 22 points respectively against lower ranked sides but when they came up against premiership contenders Canberra last week, could only manage eight points.
At the same time, their defence is still a concern after averaging 21.4 points per game through the opening seven rounds.
Melbourne’s iron clad defence was given a stern workout last week by Manly.
Racing out to an 18-nil lead early, Melbourne then copped a barrage from the Sea Eagles and in a topsy-turvy affair thereafter ended up conceding 26 points but still got the job done courtesy of the 30 points they scored. It was the first time since Round 25 last season that a team had scored 20 points or more against them.
One of the positives though was the fluency of their attack which had struggled prior to that in 2017. In fact, it was the first time since Round 24 last year that they’d registered 30 points or more and coincidentally that was against Manly again.
In a big plus for the home side they welcome back Will Chambers to the centres.
Melbourne have seemingly overcome their hoodoo of playing the Warriors.
For a number of years it was seen as though the Kiwis had the measure of the Storm but seven wins from their past 10 encounters has put a stop to that.
While the Dragons v Roosters clash is considered the traditional ANZAC Day fixture, this game has been played on this day for a few years now and Melbourne won the corresponding game last year by a whopping 42-nil.
In their past seven wins over the Warriors the Melbourne Storm have won by an average of 17 points. A Storm win by 16-20 Points is returning a very nice $7 at Sportsbet.
The defence of the Warriors is concerning and off the back of that we are tipping Melbourne.
Defence wins the big games and Melbourne’s has been pretty rock solid for most of 2017 but in saying that the Warriors style of play is favourable against a highly structured team like the Storm.
Melbourne is further ahead in our rankings than the Warriors at this stage of the season so we are happy to take the shorts. Don’t be surprised if the Kiwis make a nuisance of themselves though.
MELBOURNE 16-20 POINTS (Winning Margin)