Round 10: Storm v Wests Tigers preview
Magic round's big winners face off to open round 10.
After five weeks of patchy form culminated in a disappointing loss to an understrength Sharks in round 8 and an almighty public spray from Coach Craig Bellamy, the Storm responded as only they can with a 54 point drubbing of the Eels on Saturday night.
They'll be looking to kick on with that form as they head back to AAMI Park and have made only injury forced changes for their clash with the Tigers.
After a nasty concussion at the hands of the suspended Maika Sivo on the weekend, fullback Jahrome Hughes will be forced to sit out this one with a short turnaround to Thursday night's game. That will gift Ryan Papenhuyzen the chance to make his run-on debut in the famous number one jersey. The other change is Marion Seve returning in the centres at the expense of Curtis Scott who suffered a fractured foot that has ruled him out for up to three months in a cruel blow for the youngster who'd only just forced his way back into the side.
The second biggest winning margin in magic round was produced by the sixth placed Tigers who continued their win-loss sequence with a 26 point victory over a struggling Panthers outfit. Most of the damage was done in the opening twenty minutes however and being the hard taskmaster he is, Coach Michael McGuire would have been disappointed his troops took the foot off the pedal for the remainder of the match.
McGuire has made just the one change to last week's team, with forward Josh Aloiai returning after sitting out last week following a concussion the week prior. After spending previous weeks in the run-on side, Aloiai will come from the bench with workhorse Matt Eisenhuth keeping his role at lock.
Last meeting: Round 5 2018 - Wests Tigers 11 Storm 10
In a home game taken by the Tigers to Mt Smart Stadium, a Benji Marshall field-goal proved the difference in what was their second victory over the then defending premiers after also upsetting them 10-8 earlier in the year at AAMI Park.
Who to watch: The disappointment of losing Hughes in the second half last week was soon overshadowed by rookie Ryan Papenhuyzen who set about scorching the Suncorp Stadium surface with an electrifying 32 minutes of action. The former Tigers junior ran for 137 metres and notched up 6 tackle busts, a try, 2 try-assists and 3 line-breaks in a scintillating display. Was considered third in line to claim Billy Slater's number one jersey at the start of the season, but now gets his chance to shine and with another display like the magic he produced against the Eels, could make it his own.
In an interesting battle at the back, Tigers skipper Moses Mbye will be looking to make an impression of his own on Thursday night. After a slow start to the season by his standards, Mbye has begun imprinting himself on the game more in recent weeks and has come up with some nice touches. He'll be looking to really turn it up in the next two weeks as he pushes for a potential opportunity to earn an Origin debut as Queensland's utility.
The favourite: The Storm are red hot favourites here sitting at $1.20 with the Tigers outsiders at $4.35.
My tip: Last year's two victories over the Storm gives this game plenty of intrigue and will fill the Tigers with confidence, but it's hard to see anything but a Storm victory as they look to kick on from last week's return to top form. Storm by 10.