Two match-defining hookers in Cameron Smith and Josh Hodgson working with two energetic and unpredictable five-eighths in Cameron Munster and Jack Wighton. What's not to like about a Storm-Raiders contest?
Munster and Wighton locked horns in Origin this year although the Raiders No.6 played in the centres. But Smith and Hodgson don't get to duel that often since Smith retired from representative football. The commanding presence these two have on their sides will go a long way in deciding which team wins this match.
Coaches and best mates from their Canberra playing days - Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart - also know each other's styles well, but they each are as cunning as foxes. So they will be searching for that weak point somewhere along the fence line.
Being two cold-weather clubs, the Raiders visiting Melbourne's AAMI Park is unlikely to throw Stuart's men off the job in hand. Storm beat the Raiders before their home crowd in round two, so a little payback will be in Canberra's minds.
Storm: The Storm will line up 1-17 as named on Tuesday. The competition leaders welcome back Jahrome Hughes at fullback, with promising rookie Nicho Hynes overlooked despite last week's impressive debut. The only other change is on the bench where Ryan Papenhuyzen replacing Billy Walters. The two men omitted from the extended squad on Friday were Tom Eisenhuth and Walters, while Max King and Sandor Earl were the last players cut before kick-off.
Raiders: The Raiders are also 1-17 as named. Joey Leilua returns after a long lay-off with a neck injury, prompting Ricky Stuart to move Nick Cotric to the wing and Bailey Simonsson to the bench. Siliva Havili and Emre Guler were omitted from the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off, while Sam Williams and Hudson Young were cut an hour prior to kick-off.
The kicking games of Brodie Croft and Aidan Sezer will be vital in trying to keep two magnificent sets of back-fives from both teams pinned down in their half.
For the Storm to win
Try to keep Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad on a tighter leash. He is well ahead of his NRL colleagues when it comes to running metres - making an average of almost 180 per game. He's also crossed for 10 tries in 19 games to make him the leading try-scorer in the Raiders side.
For the Raiders to win
Keeping closer tabs on winger Suliasi Vunivalu might help. He scored a hat-trick in Storm's 22-10 over Canberra at GIO Stadium earlier this year. The Storm bench has some real points-scoring punch. Brandon Smith, Tui Kamikamica, Joe Stimson and Ryan Papenhuyzen have scored 16 tries between them. Canberra's Siliva Havili, Dunamis Lui, Corey Horsburgh and Ryan Sutton have four.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Raiders will have come out of last week’s loss knowing they are still contenders with the Roosters. Now they are testing themselves against the Storm. The Storm were great last week. The first 20 minutes from Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona was probably the best 20 minutes I’ve seen from any front rowers in 2019. If the Raiders are to win, they need to prevent a fast start from the Storm. The pace of this game should be unbelievable. Storm by 2
Storm leads the NRL completion rate across 21 rounds at 80 percent, while the Raiders aren't far behind at 79 percent. With such quality in execution, it probably comes as no surprise that these two clubs are first and third again, when it comes to making the least amount of errors in a game.
And another thing ...
Wighton is playing his 150th NRL game - all for the Raiders. He started out as a winger in 2012, then moved to the centres, to five-eighth briefly in 2014 and then the next four seasons at fullback, before returning to No.6 in 2019.