Consistently two of the NRL's most dominant teams in recent times, the Storm and Panthers find themselves again in the top four as the final quarter of the season approaches.
Tied on competition points having each picked up 10 wins from 15 games to date, the winner of Friday night's clash is a good chance of finishing Round 18 at the top of the ladder.
The Panthers have been nothing but impressive through the Origin period so far, toughing out a handful of wins to go with a golden point loss to the Cowboys a fortnight ago, despite the absence of plenty of talent at different stages.
Melbourne too have been tracking well, with wins in their last three games, where their defensive efforts have been standing out.
The Storm have averaged just 7.3 points against them over the past three weeks, although they still have some way to go to match the Panthers in that department, with Ivan Cleary's men boasting the competition's best defensive record.
Melbourne won 16-0 the last time they met, but across their past 10 head-to-head encounters wins are split perfectly at five-apiece.
Sportsbet Betting Preview - Storm v Panthers
Storm: Tui Kamikamica (calf) will make a return with Aaron Pene (ankle) and Tom Eisenhuth onto the interchange while Cameron Munster (illness) is good to go.
Panthers: Bench hooker Soni Luke came out of the team on Thursday with his place taken by Tyrone Peachey in game No.200 while Zac Hosking comes onto the bench with Jaeman Salmon dropping to 18th man.
Match: Storm v Panthers
Round 18 -
Fullback for Storm is number 1 Nick MeaneyFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Storm is number 2 Will WarbrickWinger for Panthers is number 2 Sunia Turuva
Centre for Storm is number 3 Reimis SmithCentre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin OlamCentre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
Winger for Storm is number 5 Xavier CoatesWinger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron MunsterFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome HughesHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Jack Cogger
Prop for Storm is number 8 Tariq SimsProp for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
Hooker for Storm is number 9 Harry GrantHooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch Kenny
Prop for Storm is number 10 Christian WelchProp for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Trent Loiero2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Scott Sorensen
2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Nelson Asofa-Solomona2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
Lock for Storm is number 13 Josh KingLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Storm is number 14 Bronson GarlickInterchange for Panthers is number 15 Lindsay Smith
Interchange for Storm is number 16 Tui KamikamicaInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Storm is number 18 Tyran WishartInterchange for Panthers is number 18 Zac Hosking
Interchange for Storm is number 19 Tom EisenhuthInterchange for Panthers is number 21 Tyrone Peachey
Replacement for Storm is number 15 Alec MacDonaldReplacement for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
- Senior Review Official: Gerard Sutton
- These two sides complete sets at a high rate, with the Panthers completing at a competition-high average of 82 percent and the Storm just behind them on 81 percent.
- The Storm have won 16 games from 19 against the Panthers in Melbourne.
- The Panthers play in Melbourne for the first time since 2018.
- Storm fullback Nick Meaney requires two points to reach 500 career points.
- Panthers utility Tyrone Peachey will make his 200th NRL appearance.
- Storm winger Xavier Coates has scored seven tries in his past five games in Melbourne.
- Dylan Edwards' average metres per game is now a whopping 22.1 metres per game higher than the next player on the list who has played more than one game in 2023. The second-ranked player is his teammate, winger Brian To'o.
Match: Storm v Panthers
Round 18 -
Venue: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.