The Storm have been the benchmark all season long, winning 20 of 24 matches, including a phenomenal 11 of 12 away from home.
One of those road wins came a fortnight ago when they made a statement against Manly at Lottoland and they followed that up with a comfortable win over the Cowboys in their final tune-up before the play-offs.
Cameron Munster is expected to play after sitting out last week's game, but his shoulder might still be a little tender after he injured it in the Manly win.
The Storm and Raiders split their season series with a pair of away wins but the most significant came only a few weeks ago when the Raiders ran down the Storm to pull off a shock win, the 18-point comeback the biggest Melbourne had ever conceded.
The victory proved Canberra were genuine premiership contenders but the lustre was taken off their newly minted status by their surprise final-round defeat to the Warriors.
Match: Storm v Raiders
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Storm: No changes for the minor premiers. Cameron Munster (shoulder) has put to bed any lingering doubts about his availability saying he was "fine" to play. Cameron Smith requires one goal to become the first hooker to kick 100 goals in a season. Backs Brodie Croft and Tom Eisenhuth were cut from the extended bench on match eve, while Curtis Scott and Tino Faasuamaleaui were the last players omitted before kick-off.
Raiders: Ricky Stuart has moved Josh Papali'i to the bench and promoted Dunamis Lui to start, while Ryan Sutton is out, replaced on the bench by Emre Guler. Hudson Young (suspension) and halfback Sam Williams were removed from the reserves list 24-hours from kick-off. Young will take no further part in the finals series after being banned for eight matches for eye-gouging. Siliva Havili was the last player cut before kick-off.
Fullback for Storm is number 1 Ryan PapenhuyzenFullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi VunivaluWinger for Raiders is number 2 Nick Cotric
Centre for Storm is number 3 Will ChambersCentre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin OlamCentre for Raiders is number 14 Bailey Simonsson
Winger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-CarrWinger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron MunsterFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome HughesHalfback for Raiders is number 7 Aidan Sezer
Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse BromwichProp for Raiders is number 15 Dunamis Lui
Hooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron SmithHooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh Hodgson
Prop for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-SolomonaProp for Raiders is number 10 Iosia Soliola
2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Storm is number 13 Dale FinucaneLock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine
Interchange for Storm is number 14 Brandon SmithInterchange for Raiders is number 4 Joseph Leilua
Interchange for Storm is number 15 Tui KamikamicaInterchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Storm is number 16 Max KingInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Corey Horsburgh
Interchange for Storm is number 17 Joe StimsonInterchange for Raiders is number 19 Emre Guler
Josh Hodgson may just miss out when it comes to a debate about the NRL's top two hookers but there's no doubting the importance of his duel with one of the men in that conversation, Cameron Smith. The Storm skipper continues to add to his legacy as the greatest player of all time while the Englishman's league-leading one-on-one stripping ability and play-making talents played a key role in Canberra's stunning comeback win at AAMI Park.
For the Storm to win
They need Munster fit and firing on all cylinders, while Craig Bellamy's younger stars like Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith have to prove they can handle centre stage now that the finals are here. Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich will be counted on to lay a strong platform up front, while Smith needs to be his usual brilliant self.
For the Raiders to win
They finished the regular season with the second-best defensive record, but in two meetings with the Storm the Raiders conceded an average of 20 points - well over their impressive 15.6 season average. The 'D' will have to be rock-solid on Saturday, especially on Suliasi Vunivalu, who scored four tries (including a round two hat-trick) in two clashes with the Green Machine this season. The Raiders have to keep it close and count on the game management of Aidan Sezer and Jack Wighton to get them home.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Raiders will certainly go to Melbourne without any fear after coming back from 18-0 down to win a few weeks ago, and Ricky Stuart will use that as motivation. But I'm not too sure the Storm will allow that to happen too often in a single season. Cam Munster comes back fresh this week, and Melbourne are the best defensive and best attacking team in the competition. The motivation to win at home and get two weeks off is enormous. The Melbourne go-forward will be too powerful for the Raiders to contain, and I see guys like Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster creating a lot of havoc on the back of that. Storm by 4
Cameron Smith goes into the finals having racked up a career-best points tally for the second successive season. Smith's 206 points (99 goals and two tries) sits third behind Latrell Mitchell's league-leading 251 and Jarrod Croker's 212 and tops last season's previous best in two less games.
And another thing ...
The Raiders are contesting their first finals series since finishing second in 2016. After losing 16-14 to eventual premiers Cronulla in the first week of the finals, they stayed in the hunt with a 22-12 defeat of Penrith the following week. But one game away from the grand final, the Raiders lost 14-12 to Melbourne. The Storm then lost the following week's grand final to the Sharks 14-12.