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The Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors do battle at Kardinia Park in an NRL pre-season trial. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7:50pm (AEDT).
For some it takes an eternity, for others, it all comes around all too quickly. Whichever side of the fence you sit the stone cold fact is that rugby league is back and the 2019 season is nigh and just weeks away.
Tonight, perennial semi-finalists Melbourne Storm will face the ever improving, deep breathing New Zealand Warriors in Geelong.
For the Storm it looms as a season of revenge after losing the grand final that looked to be theirs, as they took on a Roosters side with a seriously busted Cooper Cronk at the helm.
A testament to Cronk’s skill was the superb marshalling of troops in the Roosters triumph to deny the ever present Storm another title.
It will have stung the players and coach Craig Bellamy and the purple haze will be back and ready for another tilt at the title in 2019.
The Warriors had been eliminated a few weeks earlier after a terrific season where Stephen Kearney had the men from the shaky isles huffing and puffing their way to within four points of the minor premiership.
It was a new look Warriors side; as big and powerful as ever yet displaying more poise and control than in previous seasons.
Both sides will be looking for a quick start to the season and a solid performance in this trial tonight would be an early boost to their premiership ambitions.
There are significant outs in both squads and Cameron Smith and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will not be on the field to excite the fans.
While it may not be a clash between two full strength teams, there will still be plenty to play for as two of the favourites for season 2019 clash in Geelong.
For what it is worth, the Storm lineup looks far closer to the real deal that the Warriors’ and I would expect the men in purple to take the win in this one.
Catch all the action on The Roar live coverage from 7:50pm (AEDT).
Melbourne Storm 36 New Zealand Warriors 16
Where: Kardinia Park, Geelong
When: Friday 22nd February 2019, 7:50pm (AEDT)
TV: Live streaming on the NRL website and app
1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Marion Seve, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Sandor Earl, 6. Billy Walters, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Tui Kamikamica, 11. Joe Stimson, 12. Tom Eisenhuth, 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
Interchange: 14. Jahrome Hughes, 15. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 16. Justin Olam, 17. Cheyse Blair, 18. Curtis Dansey-Smaller, 19. Tom Hughes, 20. Cooper Johns, 21. Harry Grant, 22. Nicho Hynes, 23. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 24. Patrick Kaufusi, 25. Kelma Tuilagi, 27. Matt Stimson, 28. Trent Toelau, 29. Darryn Schonig, 30. Daniel Dole
Bunty Afoa, Tom Ale, Blake Ayshford, Lachlan Burr, Sam Cook, Neria Fomia, Patrick Herbert, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Adam Keighran, Sam Lisone, Sean Mulaney, Isaiah Papali’I, Hayze Perham, Api Pewhairangi, Adam Pompey, Nate Roache, Chris Satae, Brody Tamarua, Jazz Tevaga, Paul Turner, Ligi Sao, Lewis Soosomea, Cole Waaka