Date: Saturday, 11th May, 2019
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick Off: 7:35pm
Head Referee: Henry Perenara
Assistant Referee: Jon Stone
Head-to-head: Played 34 Eels 21 Storm 13 Drawn 0
Odds: Storm $1.46 Eels $2.80
Broadcast: Foxtel, Kayo
Last Four Encounters:
Storm 20 Eels 4 AAMI Park (2018)
Storm 18 Eels 16 AAMI Park (2017 Finals)
Eels 22 Storm 6 AAMI Park (2017)
Storm 18 Eels 6 Pirtek Stadium (2016)
The Warm Up
Has the lustre worn off the Storm’s 2019 Premiership campaign? Last year’s grand finalists have lost a couple in a row, but they are hardly in dire straits.
Pushing aside their strong position on the NRL ladder, there’s something very “unStormlike” about the Storm. There’s still the basics that are done well – good running metres, low error rate and the highest kick numbers in the NRL. On the flip side, their play isn’t threatening teams, with their line breaks sitting at a paltry 3.3 per game – they just look clunky.
In contrast, the Eels kick metres are the worst in the league, but the Parramatta players challenge opposition defences – leading the NRL in running metres and line breaks.
The Storm players will be fired up by public criticism levelled at them by Craig Bellamy. In what is almost a second home for many of their players, they’ll look to grind a win by minimising errors and working for superior field position via their expert kicking game. They will have watched the Raiders and Knights bully the Eels forwards in their own half and will look to do the same.
The Eels have found success with an expansive brand of footy in 2019. It’s hard to see that changing for this clash, though Arthur will be looking for strong game management from his halves.
This should be a match worthy of finals status.
Having a Punt
How sweet it is!
Last week we hit the sweet spot in the head to head/over under double market with the TAB, and my selection of the Eels to win with over 40.5 total match points came in at a juicy $3.60.
However, with the Eels taking on a Storm stung by recent losses, lets guard the bet and go to the line/over under double market. Take the Eels getting 7.5 start coupled with over 36.5 total match points @$3.80 – that’s generous odds for mine.
I like highlighting the longer odds (not tipping) around try scoring, so if you think Sivo can bag another double, the TAB are offering $8.50. I have a sneaky suspicion that Moses might have a big game. If you think he can bag a try at any time, you’ll get odds of $5.00. If you think he can bag a double, it’s a whopping $41.
The favourites for first try scorer are listed below:
Eels: Ferguson $11 Sivo $11
Storm: Vunivalu $8 Addo-Carr $8
Feed Your Footy Brain
The Storm have a record at Suncorp Stadium that would be the envy of the Broncos. Of their 19 games at this venue, they’ve won 15 matches. It is virtually a home ground for them.
The Eels have a fair history at Suncorp, though nowhere near the Storm’s success rate. The Blue and Golds have played 23 times at the venue, winning 7 of the clashes.
The Eels discipline has been much improved this season, conceding an average of only 4.5 penalties per clash. The Storm sit 6th, being penalised an average of 5.9 per game. Let’s hope Parra can maintain that discipline this week.
Tracking: Tim Mannah
The evergreen leader.
Always the complete professional footballer, Eels prop Tim Mannah Is playing with a level of energy that would be the envy of players ten years his junior.
Although averaging under 40 minutes per game, Mannah sits up alongside the recently returned Manu Ma’u as the top metre eating forwards for the Eels, with a personal return of 113.4 metres/11 runs per game.
Watching the veteran prop play, it’s easy to see why he returns such figures. He hits the ball up straight and keeps the legs pumping in contact. Exactly what a middle forward needs to provide for his team. Mannah’s quick play-the-balls have become an art form throughout his career and he’s added in some ball play to his repertoire.
When Mannah was moved to the bench by Arthur, there were people who viewed it as a transition to retirement. In reality it’s become the impetus for the Eels stalwart to hit some of his best form. Long may it continue.
Danger man: Josh Addo-Carr
Though the Storm wingers haven’t grabbed the headlines of past years, there’s little doubt that they always pose a threat to defences, no matter the opposition.
A key stat which highlights Addo-Carr’s capacity to wreak havoc is tackle breaks. In a year that has failed to deliver the spectacular for the Storm, the Fox still returns the best averages for his team, with 4.3 tackle breaks per game.
To put this in context, the Eels best three for tackle breaks are Sivo at 3.5, Jennings at 3.3 and Ferguson at 2.9. Though rightly credited for his elusiveness and pace, Addo-Carr is much tougher in the contact than he’s given credit for.
The Storm sit tenth in tackle breaks thus far (3.3 compared to the Eels 5.1) and have not created the opportunities of previous seasons for their wingers. That said, the Eels will do well to not give Addo-Carr any opportunity out wide.
He’d make them pay.
Eels : 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5.Blake Ferguson 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tepai Moeroa
Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo 15. Tim Mannah 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Manu Ma’u 18. Ray Stone 19. Kane Evans 20. Will Smith 21. George Jennings
Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Marion Seve 5.Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9.Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 18. Billy Walters 19. Patrick Kaufusi 20.Joe Stimson 21. Curtis Scott
Shaun Lane vs Felise Kaufusi
If it’s possible, I feel a bit sorry for the Sea Eagles.
With question marks over their coach and salary cap dramas, the Eels nemesis were unable to retain their most consistent forward from last season.
But who can they blame? Lane has been quoted as saying that he was never sure of where he stood at the club. Was he a middle forward or an edge player? Was he a starter or a bench player? He felt he had to move and Brad Arthur sold him on what he could be should he relocate to the golden west.
The six foot six back rower has become an instant hit with his team and their supporters.
Lane provides toughness, skills and intelligence to the left side of the Eels attack. The 80 minute player runs lines that find space putting defenders under pressure. When ready to ball play, he demands the ball from his halves, creating havoc with his capacity to pass at the line or offload in the collision. And when the situation demands it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and drive those post contact metres.
The form of Felise Kaufusi is rumoured to be under the microscope of coach Bellamy. The Queensland and Australian representative forward has become a defensive workhorse for the Storm, averaging around 33 tackles per game, possibly at the expense of his attack.
At his best, Kaufusi has the pace and mobility to trouble most defences. Obviously, his coach is looking for more.
Quality players don’t forget how to play, but they can go through lulls. Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence this year, but if Bellamy has demanded his best, he’ll be more likely than not to deliver it.
And The Winner Is?
In most weeks, it takes either a brave punter or a delusional fool to tip against the Storm. They’ve been the yardstick virtually since their foundation.
But this isn’t most weeks.
And this Melbourne team appear oddly vulnerable.
Though the Bellamy coached outfit are faring much better than other clubs, you get the sense that not everyone is on the same page. This is the antithesis of what the Storm has represented under Bellyache’s tenure.
As far as the Eels are concerned, it’s time to end their rollercoaster of form. Back to back wins will not only answer some critics, it will also add momentum leading into the middle of the season.
The start will be crucial.
Parra started very poorly against the Knights and the Raiders, and were punished accordingly. In contrast the Eels had blown the Tigers off the park by half time, and completely dominated the ruck. The Eels first half against the Dragons was also full of energy, even though the scoreboard told a different story.
Call me brave, call me the champion fool, but I’m tipping a convincing win for the Eels on the back of a powerful performance from the forwards.
Eels 28 Storm 12
Man of the Match – Shaun Lane