NRL Round 1 - Bulldogs vs. Storm
MATCH UP STATS
NRL Round 1 - Bulldogs vs. Storm
2017 ladder resultCanterbury Bulldogs: 11th (10-14)Melbourne Storm: First (20-4)
Premiership oddsCanterbury Bulldogs: $41 at SportsbetMelbourne Storm: $6 at Sportsbet
NRL heads to Perth this weekend for a double-header at the new Optus Stadium.
Hosting the evening session is a Canterbury Bulldogs side whose prospects in 2018 do not look all that promising.
Three consecutive wins to finish the 2017 campaign masked what was an otherwise dreadful campaign for the blue and white.
The Dogs have made big changes in the off-season, including a new captain, new coach and new board of directors.
They have lost a wealth of experience with James Graham’s move to St George Illawarra, but they regain plenty with the arrival of NSW prop Aaron Woods and NZ playmaker Kieran Foran.
Despite the overhaul, bookmakers are forecasting a tough season for Dean Pay and his charges.
Sportsbet.com.au has them listed as +4000 no-hopes for the flag and +250 outsiders in top eight betting.
Part of that is down to a draw that pits Canterbury against the reigning premiers and the new flag favourites in the first two rounds.
The big question surrounding the Melbourne Storm is how they will cope with the loss of Cooper Cronk.
Brodie Croft made his own headlines with a handful of dazzling displays last year, but the young half from Dalby has enormous shoes to fill.
Billy Slater’s sore shoulder means Storm fans will get a good glimpse of the future with Cameron Munster at fullback and Ryley Jacks in the halves.
A strong pre-season also sees Nelson Asofa-Solomona picked at prop ahead of Queensland State of Origin rep Tim Glasby.
Bulldogs vs. Storm players to watch
Aaron Woods – Canterbury’s big new recruit faces a massive task straight off the bat. Woods and Jesse Bromwich are two of the best props in the league, so that battle could have a significant influence on the overall tone of the match.
Brodie Croft – Only the Storm could lose a player of Cronk’s class and find a readymade replacement in the reserves. Croft was outstanding in his handful of starts last season and will want to make his presence felt from the get-go on Saturday.
Suliasi Vunivalu first tryscorer odds
- Anytime tryscorer – -153.85 at Ladbrokes
- Two or more tries – +333 at Sportsbet
- First tryscorer – +650 at CrownBet
- First two tries – +5500 at William Hill
The hardest thing about betting on a Storm game is picking between Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr in the tryscorer markets. The pair crossed 23 times each last season as Melbourne romped to the premiership. However, Vunivalu’s career record of 47 tries in 48 NRL games makes him tough to pass over.
Who wins – Bulldogs or Storm?
All the recent developments at Belmore signal a return to classic Bulldogs football. Changes of that scale don’t happen overnight, however, and a clash with the reigning premiers is not the ideal way to build confidence in a new playing style. Melbourne have a couple of big outs, but their depth of quality will shine through as always.
Top tip: Melbourne Storm -7.5/over 39.5 points (+230 at Sportsbet)
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