Regular Season Finish:
Melbourne Storm: 2nd
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 3rd
Melbourne Storm: $4.50
South Sydney Rabbitohs: $4.75
Round 25 Result:
Melbourne Storm: lost to the Penrith Panthers, 16 – 22
South Sydney Rabbitohs: defeated the Wests Tigers, 51 – 10
Kick off at AAMI Park from 7.40pm
Finals footy is here and an absolute blockbuster kicks us off as the Melbourne Storm host the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the first qualifying final at AAMI Park.
It’s a tired cliche, but you feel the Melbourne Storm has been waiting for their real season to start.
Melbourne missed its chance to secure top spot after falling to the Panthers last week, but we feel Craig Bellamy was content occupying a top-two position given the lack of his top talent out on the park.
The Storm welcome back Billy Slater (personal leave), speedster Suliasi Vunivalu (hamstring) and five-eighth Cameron Munster (knee) following last week’s loss to the Panthers.
We disregarded the Storm’s loss, but South Sydney’s success against the Wests Tigers would have excited the fans.
The Bunnies had struggled for form but they wiped the Tigers off the field, winning by 41 points to snap a three game losing streak. In a big boost for Souths, they will take an unchanged line up into Friday night’s game.
It looms as the most fascinating final of the opening week, but who has the edge?
Team line ups
1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Cheyse Blair 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tim Glasby 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Joe Stimson 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Kenneath Bromwich
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Alex Johnston 2. Campbell Graham 3. Greg Inglis 4. Dane Gagai 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. George Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Hymel Hunt 15. Cameron Murray 16. Jason Clark 17. Dean Britt
Players to watch
Storm – Billy Slater
Billy The Kid missed last week’s game against against Penrith citing family reasons and we think the retiring fullback will be fired up for a strong performance. The aging Storm bodies will be looking to secure that week off as the grand final approaches, so look for a spirited showing from Slater.
Rabbitohs – Damien Cook
The Bunnies’ star hooker is right in Dally M contention and will be an irresistible force heading into Friday night. Cook will be looking to utilise his speed in the first final and his match up against Cameron Smith could decide the game.
Storm vs Rabbitohs – Who wins?
In what should be the tightest final of week one, we’re backing the Storm to get over the Rabbitohs.
The Storm have been incredibly good throughout the season when they are at full strength. While Melbourne doesn’t have their absolute top-tier side out on the park, they are very close to their optimum.
Souths got their preparation for the finals on track after beating Wests by a big margin last week, but its hard to read too much into a win when the opponent has nothing to play for.
Before that win the Bunnies had been on a three game losing streak, which worries us greatly coming into a meaningful match.
The Storm should secure that coveted week off and deliver our readers a nice return in the process.
Result: Melbourne Storm – $1.78
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