NRL Finals Week 3: Roosters v Storm Preview & Betting Tips
It’s high stakes in this Grand Final rematch – the Roosters host the Storm in a do-or-die grudge match at the SCG.
Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm – AAMI Park – 7:50pm
The Roosters earned a coveted week off by blowing away hated rivals South Sydney 30-6, giving the Premiers plenty of time to prepare for a Grand Final rematch against the visiting Melbourne Storm. As is so often the case at the SCG, the Chooks never gave their opponents a sniff by getting off to a flyer. When the Roosters are firing on all cylinders there’s little to be done to stop them and it’s an ominous sign the Roosters were able to execute so freely in the finals as the Bunnies would attest to.
James Tedesco continues to show the ability making him a hot favourite for the Dally M and the fullback’s night of a try, an assist, two line breaks and 209 run metres almost felt par for the course. Joseph Manu is peaking at the perfect time of the season – just like this time last year – and while the spotlight is focusing on how the Storm will handle Latrell Mitchell, the Kiwi international will be causing headaches for Craig Bellamy this week. There is a significant difference to the Roosters’ line up this Saturday night, however.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ inexplicable trip late on with the Bunnies’ result in the bag means he’s suspended and the enforcer’s absence will be keenly felt by the Chooks. While JWH being unavailable through a ban is hardly foreign territory, it does deprive Trent Robinson of his pack’s true muscle and means an unwanted reshuffle. Sio Siua Taukeiaho has had the luxury of being a bench weapon recently but the Tongan star will be relied upon of setting the tempo from kickoff against a monstrous Melbourne pack. It’s a demonstration of the Roosters’ depth to have such a talent to step into Waerea-Hargreaves’ shoes but it does weaken a Roosters bench which has been an under-rated factor behind their charge for consecutive Premierships.
Another intriguing storyline lies in hooker, with Jake Friend named as a reserve outside the 17 man squad after another lengthy injury. The man filling his boots - rookie Sam Verrills – has been impressive and enabled Victor Radley to play his preferred lock role instead of makeshift dummy-half. Friend is an automatic selection for Robinson when fit but it’s a hell of an ask for the tough Queenslander to slot back into the game’s most demanding position without missing a step. Will Friend be rushed in last minute, will Verrills keep his place and will Robinson disrupt his bench balance by carrying either man instead of the current all middle/edge forward setup?
Boyd Cordner and Daniel Tupou each had minor injuries following the Souths showdown but are fully fit to ensure the Roosters are almost full-strength otherwise. This match is Cooper Cronk’s final match against his old club and after playing last year’s Grand Final with one intact scapula, the champion halfback will relish being fully fit and guiding his side to another Grand Final on the back of their home fortress.
Melbourne rebounded from their shock week one Raiders loss to brush aside Parramatta 32-0, barely raising a sweat while doing so. After growing criticism of their attack following their failure to fire against Canberra, Melbourne didn’t miss a beat in blitzing the Eels to build an 18-0 lead inside 23 minutes. It was a simple enough formula to get the Storm back on track – dominate possession, complete sets and maximise strike weapons like Josh Addo-Carr (two tries), Suliasi Vunivalu and Ryan Papenhuyzen (one try each).
The only time Melbourne looked off their game was through Cameron Smith attempting to slap counterpart Reed Mahoney, earning the veteran hooker a sin bin for only the second time in his storied career. Smith also had a shocker with the boot, going an unfathomable 1/6 with shots at goal but such was their dominance, it became little more than cause for laughter.
While the spotlight focused on the continued overlooking of Brodie Croft at halfback – Jahrome Hughes maintaining the role even while suffering a knee knock leading into the Eels clash – Craig Bellamy dropped a selection bombshell before kickoff. Will Chambers was relegated to the bench with forgotten centre Curtis Scott promoted into the must-win game.
Scott was one time looked at as a NSW bolter but through ill-discipline and injury has been slugging it out in the Intrust Super Cup for the majority of 2019. Scott built a reputation for his defensive work and it’s those traits which loom large in this Grand Final rematch. Latrell Mitchell has at times run riot over the Storm – particularly Chambers – and has the talent to tear apart his marker in a heartbeat. Scott will be relied upon to shut down one of the most dangerous threats in NRL and if he can do so, it’ll go a long way towards the Storm reaching a fourth consecutive Grand Final.
Cameron Munster resembled his more confident best with a try, an assist and dominant kicking game last start and has the perfect chance to put his shocker in last year’s decider to bed on Saturday night. The Storm may have been forced to endure a dreaded week two final instead of the week off but Bellamy’s side takes plenty of confidence and momentum out of their Parra belting and are more than capable of ending the Roosters’ title defence.
• The Roosters have nine straight SCG wins with Latrell Mitchell outscoring the opposition in eight of those matches.
• Mitchell also has seven tries in his last six games.
• Overall the Roosters have a 10-0 first-half record at the SCG this year.
• These sides have a 1-1 record over the other in 2019, with winning margins of 1 and 2 points.
• In five of the last six head-to-heads, the winning margin has been 1-12 (the 2018 Grand Final the exception at 15).
Best bet: Roosters first half - $1.77* (TopBetta)
Value bet: Latrell Mitchell anytime try scorer/Roosters 1-12 - $6.40* (Sportsbet)