What you need to know - Round 12
Melbourne travel to Townsville to take on the Cowboys in Round 12 for what promises to be a mouthwatering Friday night contest.
Match: Cowboys vs Storm
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
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Two legends for the last time
Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston meet for the last time in a regular season match on Friday night. Two future immortals have just about achieved it all over the years both at club and representative level. With Thurston retiring at season's end this could be the last time we see the two geniuses do battle unless Storm and the Cowboys meet during September. One thing is for sure, things won't be the same without future contests between these two maestros.
Hughes is up
Melbourne suffered a blow on Thursday with champion fullback Billy Slater ruled. Slater will miss the clash against North Queensland as a precaution due to hamstring tightness. That means the talented Jahrome Hughes will step up and fill the void left by Slater at fullback. Hughes made his Storm debut in Adelaide last year and played four games in purple during 2017, impressing with each performance. His form over the last 18 months at Intrust Super Cup level has been elite and Storm fans will be hoping he can replicate that on Friday night.
Backs to the wall
Both sides will be eager to bounce back and bank wins in Round 12 ahead of the all important Origin period. Losses to North Queensland and Melbourne last week mean the stakes go up a couple of notches ahead of Friday night's showdown in Townsville. The Cowboys were narrowly pipped at the post by South Sydney last week while Melbourne suffered a disappointing home defeat at the hands of Manly.
Expect to see two sides who will not shirk an issue, putting everything on the line.
Friday night lights
Townsville will be a buzz with footy fever on Friday night. Big crowds have flocked to 1300 SMILES Stadium the last two times Melbourne have made the trip north with over 20,000 fans packing in last year and in 2016. This weekend won't be any different with so much on the line.
Dale Finucane and Sam Kasiano both bring up milestones on Friday night. The pair of bullocking forwards play their 150th first-grade game when Storm run out against the Cowboys. Ironically, Finucane and Kasiano both began their careers as Bulldogs before making their switch to purple.