Melbourne Storm v St. George Illawarra Dragons
Monday 30 June, 7:00pm
TV: Fox Sports 1, LIVE from 7pm
Online: NRL Digital Pass
Radio: Triple M, ABC Grandstand
Melbourne Storm will take on the St. George Illawarra Dragons in Wollongong, looking to consolidate their top eight position at WIN Stadium on Monday night.
Storm are enjoying a return to form after back-to-back wins against the Titans on the Gold Coast and then Parramatta in Round 15 at AAMI Park. Billy Slater will once again be a big threat for the Dragons after an outstanding performance against the Eels with his constant involvement in attack netting two tries and a man of the match performance.
While the side has welcomed back senior players from Origin duty and injury, impressive performances from the squad’s younger players has shown the depth available to Craig Bellamy at Melbourne. Outside backs Kurt Mann and Young Tonumaipea are two rookies who have managed to earn regular starts in recent weeks thanks to a promising string of performances.
St George Illawarra have steadied under Paul McGregor in the last month after falling out of the NRL top eight following a bright start to the season. The Dragons have won two of their past three games and will be keen to challenge the visiting Storm after the new coach made clear his intent to bring his side back into finals contention after dropping to 13th on the ladder.
Earlier in the week, Bellamy dismissed speculation the injured Cooper Cronk would come from outside his 19-man squad, to make a shock appearance against the Dragons on Monday night. Ryan Hoffman will return as a starter for Melbourne after coming off the bench against the Eels.
The Dragons will confirm their final squad later this week, with Hoffman’s Origin teammate Trent Merrin in line to be a late inclusion.
Despite history heavily favoring the Storm in this rivalry, all three losses in their last 10 match-ups against the Dragons have been interstate. Melbourne will be looking for a focused performance - securing a win on the road will provide a valuable boost heading into the second half of the season.
HEAD TO HEAD:
St. George Illawarra: 7
LAST 5 MATCHES:
Round 6, 2014
Melbourne Storm 28 (Chambers 2, J. Bromwich, Cronk, Tonumaipea; Goals: Smith 4)
St George Illawarra Dragons 24 (Beale, Farrell, Merrin, Morris; Goals: Widdop 4)
Round 1, 2013
Melbourne Storm 30 (O’Neill 2, Fonua, Slater, Widdop; Goals: Smith 5)
St George Illawarra Dragons 10 (Nightingale, Soward; Goals: Soward 1)
Round 21, 2012
St George Illawarra Dragons 26 (Morris 3, Merrin, Scott; Goals: Stanley 3)
Melbourne Storm 18 (Chambers, Hinchcliffe, Proctor; Goals: Smith 3)
Round 24, 2011
Melbourne Storm 8 (Quinn; Goals: Smith 2)
St George Illawarra Dragons 6 (Stanley; Goals: Soward 1)
Round 14, 2010
Melbourne Storm 17 (Nielsen, Quinn, Slater; Goals: Smith 2, Cronk)
St George Illawarra Dragons 4 (Nightingale)