NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Storm
Like a steamroller flattening a field of grass, the Melbourne Storm have crushed the hopes of most all season. Standing in their way this week? The green machine, ready to upset the Storm's momentum.
They may have the minor premiership wrapped up but the Storm have plenty riding on this. It's the last home game for Cooper Cronk, Jordan McLean and Tohu Harris before the finals series; Cameron Smith will equal Darren Lockyer's record of 355 NRL games when he runs out on Saturday night. Plus, with no AFL on this weekend the Storm can showcase their brand of rugby league to some potential new fans.
The Raiders will reflect on a season of missed opportunities next week but enjoyed a thumping 46-28 win against the Knights last round, so should feel in reasonably fine fettle.
Canberra lock Iosia Soliola returns from suspension after his late hit on Billy Slater – the home fans will surely remind him – but are otherwise unchanged. The Storm have named the same 17 as their last match.
Jordan Rapana v Suliasi Vunivalu: Does it get any better than this? The race for the leading try scorer looks set to go down to the wire as thee two try scoring machines go head to head. Vunivalu is tied on 22 with Souths Alex Johnston but the Rabbitohs fullbck is out with an injury. Rapana is next on 20 and will need to repeat his hat-trick heroics from last weekend if he is to have a chance. Josh Addo-Carr might surprise all and sneak in from behind as he is on 19 tries for the year.
Aidan Sezer v Cooper Cronk: The halfbacks have quite a big say in the outcome of the match and Cooper Cronk has been steering the Storm to countless victories during his career. Aidan Sezer has certainly hit form late on this season for the green machine and if he can fire then so too will the green machine. The match will be Cronk's last home game for the Storm in a regular season and the home side have big plans to send him out as a winner.
Dave Taylor v Nelson Asofa-Solomona: Battle of the big boppers. The Coal Train has been a fan favourite for the green machine before he departs at the end of the season. The Canberra crowd are going to miss him and he will do battle with Melbourne's own giant in Asofa-Solomona. Expect both players to come off the bench and make a strong impact in the forward line with some big carries and strong tackles.
Head to Head: Both teams have met each other 39 times and it's the Storm who hold bragging rights with 28 wins compared to the Raiders 11.
Quote of the week: Sia is a big boy who has been working hard during his suspension so he'll be looking to go out there and get stuck into them again so look out!
- Shannon Boyd on Sia Solioa.