The raging hot favourites to take out this year’s premiership host one of the league’s most in-form sides in a bumper clash in the Victorian capital.
There’s not much more we can say about the Storm that hasn’t already been said in 2017. With only four losses during the season, they’re quite simply a well-oiled machine that knows exactly what’s required to keep on rolling. Captain Cameron Smith will run out for game number 356 this weekend, breaking Darren Lockyer’s all-time games record in just another little piece of added motivation for the side.
If they weren’t already frightening enough, they’ll head into the finals at full strength as Dale Finucane and Tim Glasby come back into the side after being rested last week.
The Eels go in with an unchanged line up as Bevan French remains out through injury. While he does give the Eels an added dimension in attack, they have won nine out of their last 10 and will head down to Melbourne without fear. Additionally, they beat the Storm 22-6 in round 18 and while the men in purple were without their Origin stars, it will fill the Eels with some confidence of getting the job done this weekend.
Melbourne have scored a whopping 45 tries on their right edge in season 2017 – more than any other edge in the competition – with the deadly combination of Will Chambers and Suliasi Vunivalu combining for the bulk of them however it’s not that fact that makes them that scary in comparison to previous years.
The Storm have scored 32 tries in the opening 20 minutes of games this season, a glaring improvement on previous years and while they’re the best frontrunners in the competition, their ability to score tries from all over the park – thanks largely to their back five – is what has propelled them to possess the best attack in the competition.
Parramatta’s dynamic halves pairing of Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman will be doing all they can to ensure the Storm don’t jump out to a fast start and it’ll be the Eels’ back five who will have a big say in that. Semi Radradra and Brad Takairangi are a pair of wrecking balls that have 44 offloads and 11 try assists between them so far this season and while Melbourne are owners of the stingiest defence in the league, this pair of Eels will prove to be a handful.
$1.22 is about the shortest price you’ll get in a qualifying final and there’s been enough to see over 26 rounds to suggest that the Storm will get through this one.
Storm by 8.