Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks
Thursday 9 April AAMI Park
Head-to-Head: Storm 21, Sharks 12
Defensive walls collide
One thing you can guarantee on Thursday night is that these two teams will be ready to lock down on their opponents. The NRL’s two best defensive sides will be going head to head and history suggests that if you are after a high scoring game, this might not be the one for you. Only once in their last four games has a team scored more than 14 points – that was in Round 26 last year when Storm put up 26 points to clinch the minor premiership. The Sharks has especially built on defence, given they rank a lowly 12th in attack compared to 4th by the Storm. Cronulla have not allowed their opponents to reach 20 points since their opening game of the season against the Broncos.
Slater v Holmes
Two fullbacks of different generations will be going head-to-head this week. Slater, representing the old school, proved last week just how scintillating he can be. The veteran provided two try assists and scored a double of his own to put himself well and truly back into Origin contention. Holmes, the man many consider to be the future fullback for Queensland, has been a revelation in the No.1 jersey for Cronulla, averaging nearly 4.5 tackle busts per game. Both players can pick holes in the opposition’s line at will and given they both face tough defences, which ever can break the game open will go a long to handing their team the points.
The Bye effect
Cronulla have had 12 days to rest up and prepare for this game, Storm have had just six. For Will Chambers and Cooper Cronk, Thursday night will be their third game in just eight days. Clearly that means conditioning will greatly favour the Sharks but do not underestimate the heart of this Melbourne side.
There was speculation over the weekend that Cameron Smith may spend more time on the sidelines after being rested for Friday night’s clash against the Knights. However Josh Addo-Carr said on Monday that he was confident is captain will be making the trip to Sydney and leading the side out onto Shark Park. Smith has been named for Melbourne