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05 Jul 2018 by Ash Wheldon

2018 NRL – Melbourne Storm vs St. George-Illawarra Dragons Preview

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AT A GLANCE

When? Thursday 05th July, 10:50 (UK)

Where? AAMI Park

What channel is it on? UK - Sky Sports Arena
Australia - Nine Network, Foxtel, LIVE PASS

Where can I stream the match? UK - Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go
Australia - https://www.telstra.com.au/tv-movies-music/sports-offer

Are tickets still available? http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=STORM18

THE STATISTICS


THE LOWDOWN

STORM

Head Coach: Craig Bellamy

Starting 13: Tonumaipea, Vunivalu, Blair, Scott, Olam, Jacks, Hughes, Welch, C. Smith, Asofa-Solomona, Stimson, Hoffman, K. Bromwich – Interchanges: B. Smith, Kamikamica, P. Kaufusi, Croft – Reserves: Timm, Vete

Unavailable: Dale Finucane, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Kasiano, Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi, Tim Glasby, Josh Addo-Carr

  • Melbourne managed to edge a thrilling contest against Sydney Roosters last week. Whilst the quality on display wasn’t as good as it could have been, it made for an exciting contest that went down to the wire with the Storm managing to seal the win thanks to Cameron Smith’s late drop goal to give his side the narrow 8-9 victory.

  • The Storm have been left decimated by Origin call-ups. Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi, Tim Glasby and Josh Addo-Carr are all unavailable as they represent their respective State. Young Tonumaipea, Cheyse Blair, Justin Olam, Ryley Jacks, Christian Welch and Brodie Croft all come into the side.

  • The win for Melbourne last week was an important one as they jumped to third place thanks to their fourth consecutive win. A fifth win in a row would put them just two points behind the Dragons at the top of the ladder.

DRAGONS

Head Coach: Paul McGregor

Starting 13: Dufty, Macdonald, Aitken, Lafai, Mann, Widdop, Nicholls, Graham, McInnes, Ah Mau, Host, Leilua, Lawrie – Interchanges: Latimore, Nightingale, Sele, Robson – Reserves: Herbert, Field

Unavailable: Zac Lomax, Tyson Frizell, Ben Hunt, Jack De Belin, Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims

  • St George snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last week as they got out of jail against bottom of the ladder Parramatta. The Dragons were poor for the vast majority of the game but two tries in the final seven minutes saw them steal the two points with a 20-18 win.

  • The Dragons will be without their entire first choice back row due to Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack De Belin receiving Origin call-ups. Jacob Host, Luciano Leilua and Blake Lawrie form the new starting back row. Ben Hunt and Paul Vaughan are also away on Origin duty with Darren Nicholls set to debut at halfback whilst Hame Sele and Reece Robson come onto the bench.

  • St George have lost just three matches all season but all three of those have come away from home with losses against the Warriors, Rabbitohs and Panthers the only blemishes on their record.

THE PREDICTION

Origin call-ups sees two under strength sides go head-to-head at the top of the NRL ladder to kick off Round 17. No less than 11 players from the Storm and Dragons have been called up for Origin III which gives this game a very different feel from what should have been a huge contest. There is obviously still plenty on the line and despite the wealth of talent unavailable to take the field, the opportunity has arisen for some fringe players to step up and make their mark. With both teams missing so much talent it makes it a tough game to call but the Dragons are arguably less affected despite losing their entire back row and can extend their lead at the top of the table.

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