MELBOURNE STORM v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Monday August 24, 7pm
Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights meet tonight to finish off Round 24 of the NRL with both sides needing wins for largely different reasons.
A Storm win will see them move into the all-important fourth spot on the ladder while Newcastle need a win to lift them out of last spot with just two games remaining.
It turned out to be a pretty good weekend for Craig Bellamy‘s men without even touching a football once. South Sydney’s loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night opens up a spot for them in the top four while some big injuries to key opponents has opened the race for the premiership wide open.
That good news will mean very little unless they do the business against a Knights-side that has only won on seven occasions this year.
Newcastle won’t be short of confidence though coming off a 24-18 win over West Tigers last weekend that gave interim coach Danny Buderus his first win in charge of the side.
Melbourne produced a dominate display last Monday night against the Sharks 30-2 that kept them right in the hunt for the second chance come finals. With a tough run home against the Cowboys and Broncos to follow this game, a win against the Knights is vital.
Both teams head into this one with the same line-ups that got them wins last round.
Newcastle have a damning record against the Storm with just two wins from the last ten encounters. The good news for them is that both those wins have in the last three match-ups, including the last time they played each other in August 2014.
That win in Round 22 last weekend proved a vital loss for the Storm whose top-four chances all but ended when they copped two tries in the last five minutes to lose 32-30. The Knights will no doubt be keen to be a thorn in the Storm’s side once more.
There aren’t many stats favourable to the Knights in this game, having recorded just one win in seven trips to AAMI Park. State of Victoria is far from a happy hunting ground for Newcastle having recorded just four wins in all games they’ve played in Melbourne.
Newcastle have struggled big time against the top teams this year with just one win against current top-eight opposition which against the Cowboys way back in Round 1.
In recent matches when the Storm win they win big with their last four victories producing margins of 28, 22, 18 and 42. Given Newcastle’s defensive problems it’s very possible for the home side to rack up another big win and build on their healthy points difference that is already the third-best in the competition.
No surprise at all that Melbourne are comfortable favourites on the exchange at 1.14. With 85% of the Match Odds market coin with the Storm, it easy to see where Betfair punters are putting their money. You can get the Knights at a heavy 7.6.
Storm by 26