Melbourne Storm vs Cronulla Sharks: NRL live scores, blog
Shark's Paul Gallen tackled by the Storm. (AAP Image/Action Photographics/Brett Crockford)
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Melbourne Vs. Cronulla
2012 NRL Premiership Season, 28 August, 2012
|AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC|
|Melbourne 20 defeated Cronulla 18|
|Referee: Shayne Hayne|
|Touch judges: Adam Reid & Dave Munro|
Having secured a top eight birth, the Cronulla Sharks will be keen to showcase their premiership credentials when they travel to AAMI Park to take on the in-form Melbourne Storm. Join us for live scores and blog from 7pm AEST.
The Sharks secured their most important victory of the season last week, upsetting South Sydney. It was a win that all but secured Cronulla’s place in the finals for the first time since the 2008 season.
With a finals spot now in the bag, it would not surprise to see the Sharks really turn up tonight in a bid to prove that they are a premiership threat.
Beating the Storm at AAMI Park, however, will be difficult, given that Melbourne is now beginning to display the form that made them hot premiership favourites during the first half of the season.
Despite suffering a five-match losing streak straight after the Origin period, Melbourne has steadied the ship with three straight wins and are finally rediscovering their machine like groove in attack and defence.
Over the past three weeks the Storm have struggled to put two halves of football together, so expect Melbourne to really aim up for the 80 minutes tonight.
Melbourne produced a lacklustre opening half of football against the Broncos last week, but then went up a few gears in the second-half to turn a 12 nil deficit into a 19-18 win.
A week earlier Melbourne also produced a poor first-half against the Titans before clicking in the second-half to earn a strong victory.
While consistency does remain an issue, coach Craig Bellamy will be mightily relieved that Melbourne’s spine consisting of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdop is starting to fire once again.
If those four players can pick up from where they left off in the second-half against Brisbane, Melbourne will have too much firepower for the Sharks to handle at home.
The key for Cronulla tonight remains their strong pack. Melbourne remains vulnerable upfront and the Sharks are certainly capable of dominating up the middle if Paul Gallen, Jeremy Smith and Andrew Fifita play strongly.
With the finals just around the corner, expect both teams to play with strong intensity in a match that could prove to be a dress rehearsal for a possible later meeting between these two teams down the track.
Although Cronulla will test Melbourne upfront, the Storm’s playmaking spine should once again lead the home side to a tight win.
Storm by eight.
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