Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Perfect chance to return to form for the Storm.
The Melbourne Storm were "back" a fortnight ago on ANZAC Day when they ran through the New Zealand Warriors and put the half century on the board but they were brought back down to Earth last weekend when the top of the ladder Dragons put the Storm back in their place with a 34-14 defeat. The Storm's opponents the Titans started the year as despised outsiders and bounced back to form after some humbling losses however the Titans woes have restarted and will look to break back with a shock win in Brisbane.
The Storm come into the game sitting in 4th place so far after nine rounds of NRL in 2018 and although the Storm have won more games than they have lost, their performances have been criticised on the most part. The Storm have had an inconsistent start to the season with two wins in their first three games before losing two in a row against the Sharks and the Tigers before a stretch of three wins over Newcastle, Brisbane and the Warriors before their defeat last week to the Dragons at Kogarah.
Although the Storm have been inconsistent in 2018, in attack the Storm have actually scored two more points so far this season than they had done in 2017 and although this comes down to their big score against the Warriors, the Storm have shown glimpses their attack can fire when it wants to with proof against the Broncos and Warriors that the Storm of old can still appear. Defensively however the Storm have conceded more points than they had in 2017 at the same point but not anything dangerously different.
The Gold Coast Titans were a patchwork squad when new coach Garth Brennan took over and despite a round 1 win over the Raiders, the Titans struggled to put form together which saw them be handed a flogging by the Dragons in Toowoomba. The Titans then bounced back to form with wins over the Broncos and Manly before a string of four straight losses against the Panthers, Cowboys, Sharks and Raiders.
The Titans have come under scrutiny and pressure with players being criticised for not putting their bodies on the line so this performance against the Storm will be a big test for the Titans who actually beat the Storm in the corresponding game last year at Suncorp Stadium.
Last meeting: Round 10 2017 - Storm 36 Titans 38
Who to watch: Nelson Asofa-Solomona: The Storm big man set himself up with a big reputation last season but so far in 2018 has failed to replicate his form. The Storm big man has only run over 100m three times this season with limited game time but still needs to up his game. If the man nicknamed NAS stands up and has a huge game the Titans will have a tough task of containing him.
Bryce Cartwright - The big-name recruit for the Titans has had a less than impressive season thus far and after his performance against the Raiders his efforts were questioned on whether the ex-Panther was actually making an effort in defence. Titans coach Garth Brennan has dropped Cartwright back to the bench after his sub-par performance and no doubt he is on his last chance to perform at an acceptable level before being dropped. This is the perfect chance for Cartwright to perform and show the NRL he can still put in at the top level he did for the Panthers.
The favourite: The Storm are one of the biggest favourites of 2018 so far.
My tip: It's hard to go past the Storm in this clash, there is too much talent in the Melbourne lineup to get defeated by a Titans side that is struggling this much. Storm by 22.
1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Christian Welch 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Kenneath Bromwich 16. Joe Stimson 17. Sam Kasiano
1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Brenko Lee 5. Phillip Sami 6. Aj Brimson 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Max King 9. Mitch Rein 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Will Matthews 13. Jarrod Wallace 14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Keegan Hipgrave 16. Jack Stockwell 17. Moeaki Fotuaika
Referees: Chris Sutton, Gavin Badger; Sideline Officials: Michael Wise, Rohan Best; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Bryan Norrie;