Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
Saturday 19 August, 3pm
McDonald Jones Stadium
Head-to-Head: Storm 22, Knights 15
Last time we met: Round 13, 2017 – Melbourne 40 def Newcastle Knights 12 at AAMI Park
TV: Fox Sports 502
Radio: Triple M & ABC Grandstand
One win from the shield
Currently sitting three games clear on top of the NRL ladder with three games to go, the minor premiership is in sight for Melbourne. Storm can only be pegged back on points difference, with theirs currently the best in the competition on +181, above that of the second-placed Broncos (+160) and Roosters (+62). However just one more win would see the men in purple control their own destiny and take home the J. J. Giltinan Shield for a second consecutive season. Saturday afternoon presents their first opportunity to take home that prize.
Gunning for four
The Knights may be sitting bottom of the table but there is no denying the fact that they are one of the most in-form sides of the competition. Newcastle are on a three-game winning streak for the first time since the start of the 2015 season. Co-captain Sione Mata’utia said that last week’s win over the Eels was “like we won a Grand Final”. That shows you the feeling around the place at the moment, making them a dangerous prospect on Saturday afternoon.
Return of Munster?
Cameron Munster has been named to return to the side from an ankle injury this week. The exciting playmaker has missed the last two games and will be chomping at the bit for a return. He is named in the halves alongside Cooper Cronk, with Jahrome Hughes dropping back to the extended bench. It is a bench that also includes Tohu Harris who is considered a chance to return from a shoulder injury for his first game since Round 18.
He might be off to the Rabbitohs next year but Dane Gagai is determined to end his time in Newcastle on a high note. The recent form of the 26-year-old is evidence of that. Gagai has averaged 170 metres in the last three weeks and provided three try assists last week to sink Parramatta. He also ranks third in the NRL for tackle busts and showed his class on the big stage this year, being crown the Wally Lewis Medalist for best player in the State of Origin series.