The Melbourne Storm are preparing to throw Inglis and Crocker into the mix tonight and although the Storm went down by a point to the Sharks last Sunday, their first loss at the â€œThe Graveyardâ€ for 18 months, their efforts after that uncharacteristic opening 15 minutes was exceptional. After conceding 14 early points, they only conceded three more for the match, all in the second half. Unfortunately one of those points was a late drop goal to win the match from former Storm halfback Brett Kimmorley.
The big talking point for tonights clash; will Inglis and Crocker return for the Storm side?
The Roosters also suffered a defeat last week, going down to the Brisbane Broncos 14-20 at the Sydney Football Stadium. The major talking point from that game was the shoulder charge on Braith Anasta by Karmichael Hunt which left the Roostersâ€™ five-eighth with a broken nose. Although Hunt was charged with a careless tackle, he successfully defended himself at the tribunal. It will be interesting to see how Anasta plays with a broken nose.
INS AND OUTS
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named an 18-man squad for this Saturdayâ€™s clash against the Sydney Roosters. With Brett White to miss this week after being suspended following a striking incident during the game against the Sharks, Adam Blair has been elevated to the starting line-up in the front-row. Antonio Kaufusi has been brought back into the squad for the first time in 2008 to take Blairâ€™s place on the bench.
Former Brisbane Bronco Clifford Manua has been named as 18th man – there is however plenty of speculation that the Storm could sneak Greg Inglis and Michael Crocker into their line-up. Inglis has apparently been moving well and could be ready to go – coach Craig Bellamy probably keen to use them to stop any confidence drain from last weeks shock loss.
NRL NEWS FACTS
Melbourne has not lost consecutive games since Rounds 3-4, 2006. has lost four of their past five games against Melbourne. Melbourne has only won two of their past 11 games at the Sydney Football Stadium has scored just 10 second-half points in two games in 2008
KEY MATCH UPS
With Brett White being rubbed out for four weeks for striking, Antonio Kaufusi has been named to make his long-awaited return to the Stormâ€™s squad of 17. After severely injuring his knee during last yearâ€™s State-of-Origin series, and catching a bug on the plane back from the World Club Challenge, Kaufusi is finally ready to play in the NRL. He will be looking to put in a big performance over the coming weeks to cement his spot in the side, even when White eventually does return. Kaufusiâ€™s partnership with Jeff Lima will be critical to the Stormâ€™s chances of winning.
The Roosters have recruited heavily in the forward pack and are now one of the most formidable in the competition. In a beaten team, Lima was once again impressive last week. He had 17 runs for 171 metres, 20 tackles and seven tackle breaks in his 41 minutes playing time. Along with fellow front-rower Adam Blair, and the backrow brigade of Jeremy Smith, Ryan Hoffman, Sika Manu and Sam Tagataese, the Storm big men will need huge games to combat the Roostersâ€™ forwards.
Willie Mason and Mark Oâ€™Meley were both recruited from the Bulldogs in the off-season, and they have added some much needed firepower to the Roostersâ€™ pack. Add those impressive names to the likes of representative Nate Myles, Australian international Anthony Tupou, and David Shillington, and itâ€™s little wonder the Broncos were singing their praises after their Round 2 clash last week.
Total: Played: 16, Storm: 8, Roosters: 8 At Sydney Football Stadium: Played: 6, Storm: 2, Roosters: 4
FOR AND AGAINST 2008
Points for: Storm: 48, Roosters: 48Points against: Storm: 35, Roosters: 40Tries for: Storm: 8, Roosters: 8 Points differential: Storm: +13, Roosters: +8
LAST ROUND MATCH:
Storm: def. by Sharks 17-16 @ Olympic Park
PREDICTION TIP: Originally I liked the Roosters at home in this one, the Storm are down on forward depth a little and their halves have been good without being great so far. However, should Greg Inglis and Michael Crocker be late starters – this would certainly sway my tip the way of the Melbourne Storm.