An interesting NRL Sunday greets us in Round 9, as the NRL season cruises past the 1/3 distance and heads towards State of Origin. First up, the irresistible Melbourne Storm look to continue their push for another Minor Premiership, as they play host to the Dragons, winners of 3 straight. Then, the Sharks will look to get their Top 4 aspirations back on track, as they host the New Zealand Warriors at PointsBet Stadium to round out the week.
AAMI Park, Sunday 8th May, 2:00pm (AEST)
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King. INTERCHANGE: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tyran Wishart 16. Trent Loiero 17. Jordan Grant. RESERVES: 18. Chris Lewis 19. Bronson Garlick 20. Jayden Nikorima 21. Cooper Johns 22. Tom Eisenhuth 23. Dean Ieremia 24. Alec MacDonald
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jack Bird 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. George Burgess 11. Tariq Sims 12. Josh Mcguire 13. Jack de Belin. INTERCHANGE: 14. Talatau Amone 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Aaron Woods 17. Tyrell Fuimaono. RESERVES: 18. Jayden Sullivan 19. Cody Ramsey 20. Jack Gosiewski 21. Tyrell Sloan 22. Josh Kerr 23. Jackson Ford 24. Tautau Moga
Who can slow this Melbourne Storm outfit down? We may get a sign next week when the Storm take on the Panthers in Magic Round, but I don’t think we’re going to see it here.
The Dragons have won three straight, but if we dig a little deeper, I’m not at all convinced that this form will stack up against a side like the Storm. They struggled past the Knights, who are the worst team in the competition right now, snuck home against the Roosters who have been playing horrible football and got a little lucky last week at home against the Tigers. I don’t buy the form, and I believe they will be exposed for what they really are against this juggernaut of a team in the Storm.
Since their loss to the Eels in round 3, the Storm have scored 228 points at an average of 45.6 points per game, and conceded only 46 points, for an average of 9.2 per game. Their attack is unstoppable, and in front of their home fans at AAMI Park, this could be a bloodbath.
Checking the markets, the Storm opened -19.5 last week in the look ahead, and for that price to have only moved two points is crazy. The Dragons, at home, only just got by the Tigers, whereas the Storm put 50 on the Knights. A deeper look shows the Dragons closed as a 2.5-point favourite at home against the Knights in round 6, indicating the market valued those sides evenly just 3 weeks ago. The Storm closed -22.5-point favourites last week in Newcastle, showing they are a 25-point better team on a neutral ground. I don’t believe the Dragons have improved 4.5 points in 3 weeks, so we must take the Storm.
Storm overs also continue to cash, and we will keep riding that train as long as it is profitable.
Storm Over 30.5 Points ($1.90 at Neds)
Over 41.5 Total Points ($1.90 at Palmerbet)
Melbourne Storm -21.5
$1.90 (3 Units)
PointsBet Stadium, Sunday 8th May, 4:05pm (AEST)
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane. INTERCHANGE: 14. Jack Williams 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Wade Graham 17. Royce Hunt. RESERVES: 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Andrew Fifita 20. Luke Metcalf 21. Mawene Hiroti 22. Connor Tracey 23. Matt Ikuvalu 24. Franklin Pele
New Zealand Warriors
1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Rocco Berry 5. Adam Pompey 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake (c) 9. Wayde Egan 10. Matt Lodge 11. Euan Aitken 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Jazz Tevaga. INTERCHANGE: 14. Jack Murchie 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Aaron Pene. RESERVES: 18. Bayley Sironen 20. Taniela Otukolo 21. Edward Kosi 22. Junior Ratuva 23. Pride Petterson-Robati 24. Jayden Corrigan 25. Jackson Frei
The Sharks head into this round 9 clash looking to get their season back on track. After looking likely to push for a top 4 position after starting the season 4-1, they have since lost 2 of their last 3 and need a win to keep a cushion to the myriad of teams chasing on 8 points. They will have a great chance this week, as they host the Warriors who are only 2 weeks removed from conceding 70.
The Warriors are 4-4 on the year, however they have won two games in golden point, meaning it could be quite a bit worse. Compared to the Sharks, they are struggling with run metres, post contact metres and kick return metres, whilst conceding more of each statistic defensively. They break the least number of tackles and make the least number of metres per set in the entire league.
Given these statistics, I fully expect the Sharks to shape up in defence early this week in an attempt to roll over the top of the Warriors. Whilst I don’t think the Sharks are quite as good as people initially thought, I do believe they settle in nicely to the tier just below the Panthers and Storm and should be far too good for the Warriors.
A massive inclusion this week for the Sharks, with Dale Finucane back into the squad. They missed his leadership last week and will be happy to have him back again.
The total looks spot on to me, so best bet will be on the Sharks to cover the spread. I also like the big man Siosifa Talakai to bounce back after a relatively quiet week last week and score a couple of meat pies.
Siosifa Talakai 2+ Tries ($7.00 at Ladbrokes)
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