Melbourne to storm through the Knights
NRL Rugby League, Melbourne Storm v Warriors at Etihad Stadium. Digital image by Brett Crockford, Â© nrlphotos
The Newcastle Knights travel down to AAMI Park for the hard task of taking on competition front-runners Melbourne Storm this Friday night.
It is a tale of two clubs with different form to date. It is fair to say that Newcastle is still getting used to the Wayne Bennett-style, and with that there has been some indifferent form. But the signs are there for a good year ahead.
Down south it is like Melbourne never had an off-season; they go about their business with ease and rarely skip a beat. The form of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk has been outstanding. The news of Cronk staying at the Victorian club for another four years is great news for Storm fans and keeps the big three together.
For the Knights, Jarrod Mullen has been impressive in the early games and is no doubt showing more confidence under the guidance of coach Bennet. Another is Danny Buderus, the former Australian Test hooker and Blues captain will be out for a big one on Friday against the man who took his place in the green and gold, Cameron Smith.
Look for these two to be at each other all night. Buderus has been mentioned as a possible Blues candidate again. This Friday will be a great test against the world’s best number 9.
Darius Boyd is yet to find the form he once showed in 2010 and the back rowers are far from their best. In comparison, Billy Slater just keeps getting better and better and back rower Ryan Hoffman has impressed since his return from the English Super League and doesn’t look like he has been out of the Melbourne system.
AAMI Park is a graveyard for travelling teams as the Roosters found out last week, while the Knights have a 100 percent win record away from home this season.
But I expect that record to be erased on Friday night, as Melbourne should be too strong unless they play like the Bulldogs last week. Taking nothing away from the Knights, but Canterbury where poor and lucky not to get done by more.
So with the re-signing of Cronk midweek and the consistent form of the playing squad at the Storm, I expect them to be too strong for the Knights. In front of a vocal crowd, I’m tipping Melbourne by 18 and Slater to get his fifth double.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.