Round 12 in the NRL season kicks off on Thursday night as the Melbourne Storm square off against the Manly Sea Eagles from AAMI Park! As always, Greg Davis is back for his Thursday night preview and NRL tips below.
Melbourne Storm v Manly Sea Eagles
AAMI Park, Melbourne, Thursday 26th May, 7.50pm (AEST)
1. Nick Meaney 2. Dean Ieremia 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tyran Wishart 16. Trent Loiero 17. Alec MacDonald 18. Chris Lewis 19. Jayden Nikorima 20. Jordan Grant 21. Tom Eisenhuth 22. William Warbrick 23. Bronson Garlick 24. Jack Howarth
1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Morgan Harper 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Toafofoa Sipley 11. Haumole Olakau'atu 12. Andrew Davey 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Schuster 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Sean Keppie 18. Kurt De Luis 19. Jason Saab 20. Kaeo Weekes 21. Viliami Fifita 22. Alec Tuitavake 23. Jamie Humphreys 24. Jacob Sykes
Melbourne mastercoach Craig Bellamy looks enraged when the Storm are flogging opposition sides by 50 points.
So, imagine how cranky “Bellyache” would have been at Melbourne training the past few days with the Storm in the midst of a rare two-match losing streak ahead of this Thursday night’s clash with arch-rival Manly.
Melbourne were emphatically blown off the park by the high-riding North Queensland Cowboys last Saturday night in Townsville which followed the pumping by the Penrith Panthers at Magic Round which would not have helped his mood either.
Bellamy said the Storm were “out-competed” by the Cowboys which is a massive no-no in the Melbourne camp where you are expected to know, accept and execute your role and do so at the utmost intensity for 80 minutes. No let-up, no excuses.
The meeting room at AAMI Park would need a new coat of paint after the video review of the loss to the Cowboys and Melbourne players will be like the proverbial cat on the hit tin roof ahead of kick-off, eager to make amends for the fumbling fortnight just gone.
And not that Melbourne will need any extra motivation to perform but the fact they are taking on the Sea Eagles will ensure they will come out with all guns blazing and keep firing until the final whistle.
These two clubs don’t like each other. Never have, never will. Belting each other in grand finals will give birth to a rivalry that has very real animosity. Melbourne is also back at their home fortress after a losing and lacklustre two weeks in the Sunshine State.
Add all that up and the Storm will be breathing fire.
Another big tick for the home team.
Manly suffered the crushing blow of losing superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic to a season-ending shoulder injury as well as powerhouse prop Martin Taupau and their record with Turbo in the no.1 jersey is not flash.
At 5-6, Manly are vulnerable in 10th place on the ladder without Trbojevic with the Sea Eagles also set to be without captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans throughout the State of Origin series.
They were on the end of a heart-breaking loss to Parramatta last round after being flogged by the Broncos at Magic Round.
And their immediate future this Thursday does not look that bright either with a highly motivated Melbourne awaiting them in the Victorian capital.
The Storm by plenty here.
Note: Since this article was first written and published, Storm hooker Harry Grant has been ruled out with injury. The line has come into 11.5 in favour of the Storm, but we are still comfortable backing Storm at the line despite Grant's absence.
Jahrome Hughes 1st Try ($15 at Ladbrokes)
$2.00 (2 Units)