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Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels
Saturday, July 8, 7:30pm (AEST) at AAMI Park

The Storm were ultra-impressive in their 42-12 thumping of the Broncos last week and will be a force to be reckoned with when we enter the month of September. No team is impacted more at Origin time than the Storm, with six of their stars (Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Tim Glasby) unavailable for the clash against the Eels. The Eels won’t get a better opportunity than this to topple the Storm and need to take full advantage of it as they currently sit in 8th spot with a four-point buffer over the Panthers, Warriors and Rabbitohs.

The Storm have won 6 of the last 8 against the Eels, including a 18-6 win at Parramatta Stadium last year. Try-scoring machine Suliasi Vunivalu scored a double in the Storm’s 12-point win.

Melbourne lead the premiership with a 13-3 record and enter this off arguably their most impressive win of the season, a dominant 42-12 victory over the Broncos at Suncorp. Melbourne have scored at least 23 points in six of their last eight games. The Storm are 5-1 on home turf this year. Parramatta are up to eighth on the ladder with a 9-7 record after a 13-12 golden point win over Canterbury. The Eels have conceded at least 22 points in four of their five interstate games. Parramatta have now won four of their last five matches.

Key Matchup
Brodie Croft v Mitchell Moses. Croft hadn’t looked out of place in his two matches for the Storm this season and is a Cooper Cronk clone in the making. He was the hero for the Storm back in Round 15 when the Origin stars weren’t available, kicking the match-winning field goal in golden-point to give the Storm a 23-22 victory over the Cowboys. He looks to have a big future and this will be yet another learning curve as he looks to to make the Storm No.7 jersey his own from 2018 onwards. Moses looks to have finally settled into his new home at Parramatta and was one of the Eels’ best in last week’s win over the Bulldogs. His partnership with Corey Norman in the halves is developing nicely and he’s starting to take advantage of the speedsters on his outside with good early ball. It should be an intriguing battle between two of the up-and-coming halfbacks in the competition.

Stats That Matter
– Melbourne are 9-7 ATS with a 9-7 over record.
– Parramatta are 8-8 ATS with an 11-5 under record.
– The Storm have won 6 of the last 8 against the Eels.
– Six of the last eight matches have topped 38 points.
– The Storm are 26-18 under at AAMI Park since 2014 while they are 11-2 under at the ground after conceding 12 or fewer.
– Melbourne are 16-11 ATS as an underdog since 2014.
– Parramatta are 7-14 ATS interstate since 2014.
– The Eels have gone under in 6 of their last 7 night games.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf will never underestimate a Craig Bellamy-coached side and the Storm did manage a golden-point win over the Cowboys in Round 15 minus their Origin stars and pushed the Roosters all the way in Round 16, with Slater, Chambers, Cronk and Smith all rested after Origin 2. In saying all of that, The Wolf can’t go past the Eels here in a low-scoring affair. The class of Norman and brilliance of Gutherson at the back should be enough to get them across the line, while the unders looks the best play, with the Storm fielding a second-string spine.

How It’s Shaping Up
Parramatta by 2

Best Bet
Under 39.5 ($1.90)

Other Recommended Bets
Parramatta 1-12 ($2.90)

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