Some of the best playmakers in the world will go head-to-head on Saturday night but the game’s most crucial match up does not involve them at all.
It will instead be the battle of the big men that will hold arguably even more importance as both teams vie for a preliminary final berth.
Storm and the Cowboys ranked second and first respectively for metres gained during the 2016 home and away season.
North Queensland have representative stars Matt Scott and James Tamou while Kiwi captain Jesse Bromwich is the leader of a young, emerging Storm pack.
One man who will be in the heat of action in the middle of the park is Dale Finucane.
Finucane has played every game for Melbourne this season, included both wins over the Cowboys, however he knows that will count for little when he takes his first hit-up on Saturday night.
“We’ve played them twice already this year but those two wins don’t count for much at this stage of the year,” Finucane said.
“They are really tough opposition, got great go-forward in their big men and a lot of strike power out wide. They will be a tough team to beat.
“They are big men so stopping their momentum will go a long way to negating their outside backs. I think if we can do a good job in the middle that will take that go-forward away for them.”
Melbourne produced one of their best performances of the year last week in a 26-6 wins over the Sharks.
A sell-out crowd of 24,135 packed out AAMI Park for the minor premiership decider and the side is looking forward to seeing another sea of purple out there for the Qualifying final.
“It is great to be back at home, playing consistently here,” Finucane said.
“It was really good having a packed crowd here because it was just a great atmosphere running out into a packed stadium.
“It was Tohu’s 100th game and playing for the minor premiership and it is another big game for us.”