Melbourne v North Queensland | Saturday, September 10, 7.55pm (AEDT), AAMI Park
Undoubtedly the pick of the matches in the opening week sees the minor premiers up against the defending champions with most observers agreeing the winner of this fixture is in pole position to lift the trophy in a month’s time.
The Storm finished on top for the fifth time in their abbreviated history and would be thankful for a solid hit out against another top four team with Craig Bellamy extremely happy with the condition his squad is in heading into yet another finals campaign.
The AFL’s bye week gave the Storm a free pass and generated their biggest home crowd of the season and with a no direct opposition again this week they’ll be hoping for another solid turnout.
Centre Will Chambers has spoken this week of the hurt experienced by their senior players in the wake of their hefty defeat to the Cowboys in last season’s Grand Final qualifier and that will surely provide an extra reason to produce their best.
North Queensland have hit their straps at the right time with Jonathan Thurston a certain starter, they’ll fancy their chances of knocking the hosts off.
Matt Scott has been named at prop but remains in some doubt as he continues to recover from a broken finger, so it may pay to check the team sheets.
As the betting suggests, this one should be really close but going with the Cowboys to win on the road.
OFFER: Grab a $300 Unibet Bonus
Last time they met: Rd 21 – Melbourne 16-8 North Queensland
Line tip: North Queensland +2.5
Storm: 1 Cameron Munster 2 Suliasi Vunivalu 3 William Chambers 4 Cheyse Blair 5 Marika Koroibete 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith 10 Tim Glasby 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane Interchange: 14 Kenneth Bromwich 15 Christian Welch 16 Jordan McLean 17 Ben Hampton
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2 Kyle Feldt 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein 6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston 8 Matt Scott 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn 15 Coen Hess 16 Scott Bolton 17 Ben Hannant