What you need to know: Round 1
Melbourne Storm v Canterbury Bulldogs
Friday, March 3, 6pm
Belmore Sports Ground
TV: Fox League (Ch. 502) from 6pm
Head-to-Head: Storm 16, Bulldogs 21, Drawn 1
Last time we met: Round 6, 2011; Storm 12 def by Bulldogs 18 at AAMI Park
1. New era for rugby league
This game will be the first in the new Friday night 6pm timeslot. In a change from previous seasons, the 2017 NRL Draw will see Friday night double headers feature throughout the season. This week marks the first of those, with Storm taking on the Bulldogs are 6pm before the Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers lock horns at 8pm. That means Friday nights equal must-see viewing for rugby league fans this season!
2. The Unknown is our advantage
A lot of questions surround the Storm team that will run out onto Belmore this Friday night. A new five-eighth, winger and fullback plus a second row without either Tohu Harris or Kevin Proctor. This unknown will mean the Bulldogs will know very little about what is coming their way in Round 1 – no doubt something Craig Bellamy and his coaching staff will look to exploit at every opportunity.
3. Forward pack set to shine
A big driving force behind Storm’s success last season was the emergence of the team’s forward pack. Now with another full pre-season under their belt, Jesse Bromwich, Jordan McLean and co. will look to further assert themselves on the competition in 2017. There is no bigger first up test though than taking on James Graham and a Dogs pack that has been their strength for so many years. Should our big boys get the better of the Bulldogs on their own turf, it will do them the world of confidence for the year ahead.
4. Fitness in our favour
A theme of both trial matches this pre-season was Storm’s ability to finish games strong. Against the Warriors, Melbourne piled on 30 unanswered points to win the game and while they came up just short against Canterbury in Hobart, it was not without a run of three late tries to almost pinch the result. So should our boys find themselves behind in the second half on Friday night, this team has proven it will have plenty left in the take to finish the 80 minutes full of running.
5. Unfinished business in Belmore
The cold hard fact remains that we have not beaten the Bulldogs since Round 3, 2013. Six games have been played since then with Des Hasler’s side coming away with the points every time. Storm’s last trip to Belmore in 2015 resulted in a 20-4 ambush but our boys will be ready this time around. All runs must come to an end and now is the time to end our Doggies drought.