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Storm v Eels: Schick Preview

Wed, Sep 06, 2017 - 12:00PM
By ‌Andrew Marmont‌‌, ‌NRL.com

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Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels
Qualifying Final
AAMI Park
Saturday, 4.10pm

Slick consistency versus unbridled enthusiasm. That's what we'll get this weekend when finals veterans the Storm host the Eels, who make their first post-season appearance since 2009.

There's a feeling around the Storm camp that this game has building for few weeks now. Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy admitted he wanted to get the final round of regular season finished and without injury. They've had a tremendous year, only losing four games, and are at full strength. Dale Finucane and Tim Glasby return to the 17 after a rest last round and Cameron Smith will break the record for NRL games played, surpassing Darren Lockyer.

Parramatta fans can rejoice in one of their most successful seasons in recent years. They've won nine of their last ten matches (going back to Round 15), defeating the Storm and Brisbane (twice) along the way. The Eels have the same 17 and no major injury concerns.

 

‌Why the Storm can win: When asked whether the premiership was the Storm's to lose, halfback Cooper Cronk acknowledged "that's fair commentary". Younger players like Curtis Scott and Joe Stimson have made the jump from rookies to reliable with their older heads continuing to improve. They've played an almost unblemished year of regular season football in both attack and defence.

Why the Eels can win: They are one of only four teams to beat the Storm this year – quite a psychological boost – and are in the habit of winning over the past three months. The Eels are arguably the second most consistent team behind the Storm in 2017 and will get good strike power through Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings and Corey Norman. Their forward pack led by Tim Mannah are strong performers and will feel they can match it with the Storm's big men.

 


The history: Played 32; Storm 19; Eels 13. Parra fans can point to their two victories in the past two games at AAMI Park, but the Storm have won seven of the past ten matches overall.

What are the odds: Not even the short price has deterred Sportsbet punters from backing Melbourne. 87 per cent of the money is with Melbourne, and Storm 13-plus is the most popular winning margin. There is slightly more money on Parramatta at the line, where they're receiving a huge points start. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.

Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Touch judges: Brett Suttor and Tim Roby. Review official: Ben Galea. Senior RO: Jared Maxwell. 

Televised: Nine and Fox League – live from 4.00pm.

NRL.com predicts: Parramatta will play attacking football – and they'll need to against the Storm – but the home side should get the job done fairly comfortably through their experience. Don't expect a high-scoring game. Storm by 10.

 

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