St George Illawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm
Date: Sunday, 30th April 2017
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Kickoff: 08:00 cet
Melbourne were outstanding against the Warriors on ANZAC Day, recording yet another win, to stay atop the table with just the 1 loss from the first 8 rounds, with a superb performance from Cooper Cronk. Kenny Bromwich is set to return to the backrow while Stimson misses out on selection this week, though coach Bellamy must surely be tempted to give Asofa-Solomona a start following his man of the match performance .
Meanwhile, the Dragons had their hearts broken in Golden Point by Mitchell Pearce who landed the winning field goal, though they are still doing better than expected in 2nd with a 6-2 record. St George Illawarra were dealt another bitter blow, when Widdop was ruled out for at least a month with MCL ligament damage in his knee. Kurt Mann has been named to take the role of 5-8th by coach McGregor which is a little odd, given his extremely limited experience in the role. Milne gets the role on the bench, in the corresponding move.
Wollongong too will provide outstanding weather for players and spectators on Sunday afternoon, in what is a top of the table clash, that few would have predicted at the start of the season. Undoubtedly one of the marquee matchups in this one is, Slater and Dugan the two Fullbacks, while Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin charging at and defending McLean and Jesse Bromwich is sure to thrill the old-timers.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm: Head to Head Stats
The 1999 Grand Finalists’ meet again here, and it must be said that the Dragons have had a hard time against the Storm, as they ultimately did in that infamous clash. The Storm hold a 23-9 overall record against the Dragons, and even have a decent even if unspectacular record at WIN Stadium, having won 4 from 9 in their trips to Wollongong. Melbourne have won 6 from the last 9 against St George Illawarra including, another infamous match which saw a try awarded to Melbourne, even though it was clear the siren had already sounded, before the play the ball.
Melbourne are unquestionably clear contenders for the title this season, and are playing well enough to take favouritism away from the defending premiers Cronulla. St George Illawarra meanwhile, even though they have 6 wins from 8, have a little to prove still of they are to be named among the serious threats in this cut-throat competition, with a win here a huge step to doing just that.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm: Prediction
Even with Widdop in the best of form and St George Illawarra playing as well as they are, it is a stretch to tip against the Storm in this type of form, with all their players available. Hence, take out the star Englishman, as unfortunate as it is, and Melbourne become hot favourites to take out the clash, with a win now for the Dragons to be billed not much short of a miracle. The old firm of Melbourne, Smith, Slater and Cronk are in fine form, and Billy will be out to prove Meninga wrong as he was left out of the Australian team, and to show Walters that he will be a big asset when selected for Queensland.
Dugan and Nightingale will need to set a big benchmark for the lesser credentialed backs of St George Illawarra if they are to threaten the quality Storm team, who now have another current Australian player, after Chambers was named to return to his position in the Australian backline. It ought to be a brutal clash, with plenty of high quality defenders and attackers in both forward packs, that are set to meet again in the coming representative rounds.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm: Tips
- Storm to win by 10-12.
- Will Chambers to score a try, celebrating his return to the Green and Gold.