Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm Saturday, April 7, 3pm (AEST) Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
The Tigers have taken their home game across the Tasman to Auckland and will play the Storm for a second time already this season. They shocked the Storm 10-8 in Melbourne back in Round 2 and won’t have the surprise factor this time around. The Tigers are unchanged after their 30-20 win over the Eels on Easter Monday. The Storm will have revenge on their minds, but will have to do it without some of their proven stars. Will Chambers is suspended, while Dale Finucane is out courtesy of both suspension and injury. Young Tonumaipea and Kenny Bromwich are the replacements respectively.
FormThe Wests Tigers have been the major surprise packets of 2018 with three wins in their opening four games. The Tigers opened up with 10-8 wins against the Roosters and Storm before a 9-7 loss to Brisbane. They followed that defeat up with a 30-20 win over Parramatta. The Tigers rank fourth on the ladder with the best defence in the premiership though they rank 15th in attack. Melbourne rank sixth on the ladder with wins over Canterbury and North Queensland and losses to the Wests Tigers and Cronulla, the latter in two defensive grinds.
Key MatchupBenji Marshall v Cameron Munster: Benji Marshall has been a calming influence on this Tigers and his experience has been invaluable in their strong start to the season. He has also allowed halves partner Luke Brooks to relax and focus more on his running game. Speaking of running games, it’s something that has gone missing from Cameron Munster’s game since the move to five-eighth. He has had to do more organising this year since the departure of Cooper Cronk and it’s hurting his impact as a damaging ball runner. Take on the line Munster!
Stats That Matter– Wests Tigers are 4-0 ATS with a 3-1 under record while Melbourne are 2-2 ATS with a 2-2 total record. – The Tigers defeated the Storm in Round 2 at AAMI Park while they have won seven of the last 16 meetings. – The Storm have just four double digit wins in those 16 games. – Nine of the last 11 meetings have tallied 38 points or fewer. – The Storm are 21-14 ATS with a 21-14 under record interstate since 2015 while the Tigers are 7-7 ATS with a 7-7 total record. – The Storm are 5-8 ATS interstate away from Victoria when favoured by more than a try. – The Tigers are 12-3 ATS under Ivan Cleary getting more than a converted try. – Underdogs of 6.5 or more interstate on a five-day backup are 11-7 ATS with a 13-5 under record while the under hits at 65% overall when an interstate team is on a quick backup. – The Storm are 34-18 under after conceding 14 or fewer while they are 14-8 under after conceding 14 or fewer. – Melbourne have won 14 straight off a loss.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf has been impressed by the Tigers defensive efforts this year, but they’re not going to pull the wool over the eyes of the Storm for a second time this year. The Storm are also a great bounce back team, winning 14 straight off a loss. Chambers and Finucane are big outs for the Storm, but there is enough incentive after their shock Round 2 loss to the Tigers.