Melbourne Storm v Wests Tigers
Sunday, March 26, 4pm (Melb time)
TV: Channel GEM & Fox Sports 502 from 4pm
Radio: ABC, Triple M, 2GB
Head-to-Head: Storm 18, Wests Tigers 10
Last time we met: Round 16, 2016; Storm 29 def Wests Tigers 20 at AAMI Park
Danger of sacked coach
The news of a coach deparating during a season is often met with groans of despair from their opponents that upcoming week. That is precisely the predicament Storm find themselves in following Monday’s announcement that Wests Tigers had chosen to part ways with Jason Taylor. However history suggests it may well be on Melbourne’s side. Since the NRL era began in 1998, 22 coaches have been sacked mid-season. Teams playing their first game after sacking their coach have won eight and lost 14. Leicchardt Oval will be a hotbed for the men in purple on Sunday, meaning they will need to ride the emotion if they are to come away with the points.
Record at Leicchardt
Leicchardt Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for Storm. Melbourne have won just five of their 14 visits over the years. Cooper Cronk’s golden point field goal in Round 7 last year was the Club’s first triumph at the suburban ground since 2012.
Replacements at the ready
Rising stars Cameron Munster (broken jaw) and Suliasi Vunivalu (shoulder) will not make the trip to Sydney. However as has been the case all season, there is talent waiting in the wings and hungry for opportunity. Victorian-born Young Tonumaipea will get his opportunity on the wing while the next month gives Ryley Jacks a real chance to excel in the five-eighth role. A trademark of Storm’s start to the season has been the ability of players to step up, play longer minutes and take their chance when it arises. That is again the case this weekend against Wests Tigers.
The purple wall has picked up right where it left off from last season. Storm have conceded only 28 points in their opening three games. The next best defence is the Bulldogs who have allowed almost double that (52). West Tigers have a knack of putting points up against Melbourne however, having scored 18 points or more against Storm in four of their last five meetings.