NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Storm

As the Canberra Raiders' season begins to enter must-win territory they head down to AAMI Park on Saturday night to face the Melbourne Storm.

The Raiders are coming off a controversial 28-24 loss to the Cronulla Sharks where their second-half comeback fell just short with a number of refereeing errors costing the Raiders.

The Melbourne Storm defeated the New Zealand Warriors 12-6 last week in a low-scoring contest at Mt Smart Stadium.

Joe Tapine returns to the second row for the Raiders, pushing Sia Soliola to the bench and Jack Murchie out of the 17, while Michael Oldfield shifts to the wing with Nick Cotric moving to centre.

Dale Finucane starts at lock for the Storm with Kenny Bromwich dropping to the bench.

Last Time: The Melbourne Storm ran out comfortable winners when these two met in Round 26 last year.

They raced to a 20-0 lead within the first 20 minutes before finishing with a 32-6 win.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Storm is number 1 Billy Slater
    Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Brad Abbey
  • Winger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
    Winger for Raiders is number 3 Nick Cotric
  • Centre for Storm is number 3 Will Chambers
    Centre for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
  • Centre for Storm is number 4 Curtis Scott
    Centre for Raiders is number 4 Joseph Leilua
  • Winger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
    Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
  • Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
    Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Blake Austin
  • Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes
    Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam Williams

Forwards

  • Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
    Prop for Raiders is number 15 Luke Bateman
  • Hooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
    Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh Hodgson
  • Prop for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
    Prop for Raiders is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
    2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Joseph Tapine
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 17 Joe Stimson
    2nd Row for Raiders is number 17 Iosia Soliola
  • Lock for Storm is number 14 Kenneath Bromwich
    Lock for Raiders is number 13 Josh Papalii

Interchange

  • Interchange for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
    Interchange for Raiders is number 8 Dunamis Lui
  • Interchange for Storm is number 15 Tim Glasby
    Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Liam Knight
  • Interchange for Storm is number 16 Christian Welch
    Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Siliva Havili
  • Interchange for Storm is number 20 Cheyse Blair
    Interchange for Raiders is number 18 Jack Murchie

Key Matchups

Josh Hodgson vs Cameron Smith

This Saturday we will see two of the best hookers in the game battle it out at AAMI Park. Cameron Smith is considered by many to be one of the best players of all time and even though he's now retired from representative football his club form has been as good as ever, and he's a chance of securing his third Dally M medal this year.

Josh Hodgson has missed most of the season due to injury but since his return he's shown just how good a player he is. Like Smith, he's great with the ball in hand, laying on four try assists in the five games he's played this year, as well as being a great game manager. Both teams are a different side with their inspirational hooker on the field and these two captains will be looking to guide their team around the park on Saturday night and lift them to a victory.

Junior Paulo vs Nelson Asofa-Solomona

The Raiders and the Storm both possess huge forward packs and that's personified by the battle between Junior Paulo and Nelson Asofa-Solomona. These two starting props will be looking to use their big frames to lay a platform that their side can build off.

Asofa-Solomona has already broken more than 50 tackles and run for over 700 post-contact metres this season. He's proven himself as a man who is difficult to defend against and the Raiders will need to stop him if they are any chance of upsetting the Storm this weekend.

Paulo has only played 13 games this year but in the matches he has played he's been huge for the Green Machine. He is one of the Raiders' hardest runners and he creates creating plenty of second phase play with 21 offloads so far this year. Both Paulo and Asofa-Solomona average 98 running metres per game and with the last meeting between the Storm and the Raiders decided in the first 20 minutes, the starting props have huge role to play on Saturday night.

Joey Leilua vs Will Chambers

Joey Leilua has been great again this season and already has nine tries to his name to go along with his 33 offloads. He's so dangerous with the ball and was close to Canberra's best last week, crossing for his third double of the season and laying on a try assist for Brad Abbey. This weekend he comes up against an incumbent Kangaroos and Queensland centre in Will Chambers.

Chambers is one of the best defensive centres in the NRL and has made 202 tackles in just the 13 matches he has played for the Storm this season. He's also averaged close to 100 running metres per game and loves to put in attacking kick close to the line. Watching these two fiery centres battling it out will be one of the highlights of Saturday's clash.

"If you look at it as six games, and you've got to win them all, it's a daunting set of fixtures, but every week is a new game and we've just got to win that game rather than worry about the following weeks." -Sam Williams

 Head to head: Unfortunately for the Raiders it's been one-way traffic in the past between these two.

Canberra have won just 11 of the previous 40 clashes and at 27.5% that's their worst winning percentage against any NRL opponent. To make matters worse, the Raiders have beaten the Storm in Melbourne just four times from 20 attempts.