Bounce back effect
Only once in the last six years have Melbourne Storm lost back-to-back games at home. That was in Rounds 14 and 15 of the 2015 season. Craig Bellamy and his men thrive on making AAMI Park their fortress. They have only lost two games at the venue in each of the last two seasons so will be doing everything in their power to ensure they do not do the same already in just the opening three rounds.
Battle of the big men
They might not fly for tries or blitz with speed down the wing, but the big men running head-to-head up the middle tonight will be the mouth-watering match-up to watch in this game. The NRL’s two premiere forward packs will be going at each other and there is star-studded talent on either side. Jason Taumalolo, despite having a quiet Grand Final, has started this season in unstoppable fashion by averaging more than 150 metres in the opening two rounds. The return of Matt Scott and inclusion on Jordan McLean makes them a force in this competition. Do not sell the Melbourne big boys short though with Nelson Asofa-Solomona in career best form, Jesse Bromwich leading from the front and Sam Kasiano building nicely into his Storm career.
The Cowboys have been boosted significantly this week with star playmaker Michael Morgan set to play his first game of 2018. Morgan missed the first two rounds with an abdominal injury but is set to partner with Johnathan Thurston in the halves for the first time since Round 14 last year. The Storm defence will have their work cut out to stifle their creativity and would have no doubt put in plenty of homework this week in order to do that.
Recent form with the Victorians
Given both teams have been at the top end of the ladder for several years now it is somewhat surprising the recent head-to-head is skewed so heavily in Melbourne’s favour. Storm have defeated the Cowboys in seven of their last eight meetings. Looking closely at the results though the games have been far from lop-sided, with five of those games decided by an average margin of less than five points.
NRL Footy Show LIVE from AAMI Park
The NRL Footy Show will be Live from the home of the Melbourne Storm, AAMI Park, following their Grand Final rematch with the Cowboys. It is the first time in 25 years that The Footy Show has been hosted at the ground of an NRL match. The panel will be on the field at AAMI Park with NRL superstars Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater appearing on the show straight after the game. Storm fans will be able to join the studio audience by taking their seats in the AAMI Park seating bowl on Level 1 of the Western Stand.