Some interesting points to consider ahead of Storm’s clash with the Panthers this Saturday night at AAMI Park:
Panthers Melbourne woes
Since 2006, Storm have won 16 of 17 meetings between these two teams with an average winning margin of 18 points. Melbourne has not been a happy hunting ground for the Panthers. They have never won at AAMI Park and their last win here was in fact next door at Olympic Park back in Round 15, 2005. That is a significant hoodoo to overcome but one Anthony Griffin’s men will no doubt be motivated to.
Forward pack battle
The battle up the middle will shape Saturday night’s contest. Storm rank second in the NRL for most metres, averaging 1,637 per game. Jordan McLean’s pending return to the line-up will further strengthen the home side in this part of the field. The Melbourne props will face a Panthers pack that is fresh from monstering the Knights in their 40-0 win last week. In that game they ran for 2,012 metres, compared to the Knights 1,147. New recruit James Tamou had 130m but it was his partner Reagan Campbell-Gillard who dominated with 209m from 52 minutes.
Potential big ins for Storm
Jordan McLean and Suliasi Vunivalu could both return from injury after being named in the extended 21-man squad for Saturday night. McLean looks likely to line-up after being selected in the starting side. The 25-year-old was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s game against Wests Tigers and will prove his fitness this week. Vunivalu will need to do the same after being named on the six-man extended bench. The Fijian is battling to overcome a shoulder injury sustained in the Round 3 win over the Broncos, with Storm fans hoping the try scoring machine can be there to light up AAMI Park on Saturday night.
JAC looking sharp
It is hard to think of a better way to start your Storm career than leading the Club in metres gained, tackle busts, line breaks and kick return metres. Josh Addo-Carr is quickly becoming a Storm fan favourite. He has scored two tries so far this season, the first was a match-winner against the Broncos before backing up that effort with a 70 metre try against Wests Tigers on Sunday. Back at AAMI Park, in front of the purple faithful, get ready for some more Addo-Carr fireworks.
Panthers attack in form
Penrith have scored the second most points of any team after the first four rounds. That dynamic attack has been built on the back of their ability to break through the opposition line. They have done so on 22 occasions so far this season (ranked 1st in the NRL), with in-form centre Tyrone Peachey producing six of those. Storm have only had their line broken on eight occasions in the first four games but will need to keep a watchful eye on their opponents this week.