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Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm
Saturday, July 22, 5:30pm (AEST) at GIO Stadium, Canberra

The Raiders got out of jail in golden point against the Dragons last week, but they’ll need more than luck if they’re to topple the competition front-runners here. The task has become tougher with the suspension of Josh Papalii for a shoulder charge. Joseph Tapine moves into the starting side as his replacement. The Storm got through the Origin period nicely, winning four of their six matches and will be keen to make amends for last year by taking out the premiership and give the departing Cooper Cronk the farewell he deserves.

The Storm have won three of the last four meetings against the Raiders and have won five of the last seven in the capital. Melbourne won a low-scoring preliminary final 14-12 last year. None of the last three matches have topped 30 points.

Canberra are 10th on the ladder with a 7-10 record. They ended a four-game losing streak with a lucky golden point victory over St George Illawarra on home soil. The Raiders have been kept to 20 or fewer in five straight. Melbourne are the top team in the premiership with a 13-4 record with the best defence and second best attack. The Storm come off their best Origin period where they went 4-2 including a 42-12 domination of Brisbane. Melbourne have scored at least 23 points in six of their last nine.

Key Matchup
Josh Hodgson v Cameron Smith: Hodgson has had a very quiet 2017 when compared to the lofty heights he set in 2016. The attacking stats have gone missing from his game and it could be a contributing factor why the Raiders halves pairing of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer have struggled for consistency. Smith was sensational in Game 3 of the recent State of Origin series and would love to top a Queensland series win with a premiership for the Storm. He was unstoppable around the ruck in the Origin decider and will look to exploit any lazy Raiders forwards. He’s arguably the best player in the game at the moment, with Johnathan Thurston on the sidelines.

Stats That Matter
– Canberra are 7-10 ATS with a 9-8 under record while Melbourne are 9-8 ATS with a 9-8 over record.

– Melbourne have won three of the last four meetings against Canberra and have won five of the last seven in the capital.

– None of the last three matches have topped 30 points.

– Home underdogs of 4.5 or more off a win are 23-9 ATS since 2008 in the post-Origin period.

– Canberra have covered their last three at home getting a start of 4 or more.

– Home underdogs of 4 or more off a win are 32-21 ATS since 2014.

– Melbourne have covered just 6 of 15 as a road favourite of more than a try since 2014.

– Melbourne are 11-6 under off a bye.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf is keen on the unders here. The last three matches haven’t topped 30 points and the Storm have the best defence in the competition, conceding an average of 16 points per match.

How It’s Shaping Up
Melbourne by 6

Best Bet
Under 41.5 ($1.88)

Other Recommended Bets
Melbourne 1-12 ($2.90)

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