This intriguing match-up between the Storm and the Broncos will kick-off the third week of the finals in 2017. Since Craig Bellamy took the reigns at the Storm, they have been consistently the dominant team in this fixture with 24 victories, including 14 victories against Wayne Bennett coached sides.
The Storm advanced to the preliminary final courtesy of a narrow and somewhat fortuitous victory against the Eels in the first week of the finals. However, the quality of some of their tries in that match reinforced the reason why they were crowned Minor Premiers and are Premiership favourites. Two of the Eels’ tries occurred when five-eighth Cameron Munster was in the sinbin. As such, they will have been refreshed, courtesy of their week off.
The Broncos were forced to qualify for the preliminary finals the hard way after an opening week loss to the Roosters. They were provided with a second opportunity, courtesy of a home semi-final against the Panthers which they won 13-6. It was a brave performance by the Broncos considering they were without Darius Boyd and Tevita Pangai Jnr while Corey Oates picked up a sickening injury in the match.
2017 – Rd 17 Melbourne Storm 42 def. Brisbane Broncos 12 at Suncorp Stadium
2017 – Rd 3 Melbourne Storm 14 def. Brisbane Broncos 12 at AAMI Park
2016 – Rd 23 Brisbane Broncos 26 def. Melbourne Storm 16 at AAMI Park
2016 – Rd 17 Melbourne Storm 48 def. Brisbane Broncos 6 at Suncorp Stadium
2015 – Rd 26 Melbourne Storm 15 def. Brisbane Broncos 8 at Suncorp Stadium
The Storm are the only team with a positive head-to-head record against the Broncos, winning 28 of their 42 overall clashes, including their two meetings in 2017. Melbourne also hold the ascendancy in finals matches between the two teams, emerging triumphant in four out of six matches.
The Broncos did beat the Storm in the 2006 Grand Final however while they have won two out of the last three meetings in Melbourne. Overall, they have lost five from eight visitors to AAMI Park.
|MELBOURNE STORM||BRISBANE BRONCOS|
|Billy Slater||1||1||Darius Boyd|
|Suliasi Vunivalu||2||2||Corey Oates|
|Will Chambers||3||3||James Roberts|
|Curtis Scott||4||4||Tautau Moga|
|Josh Addo-Carr||5||5||Jordan Kahu|
|Cameron Munster||6||6||Anthony Milford|
|Cooper Cronk||7||7||Kodi Nikorima|
|Jesse Bromwich||8||8||Sam Thaiday|
|Cameron Smith||9||9||Ben Hunt|
|Jordan McLean||10||10||Adam Blair|
|Felise Kaufusi||11||11||Alex Glenn|
|Tohu Harris||12||12||Matt Gillett|
|Dale Finucane||13||13||Josh McGuire|
|Kenny Bromwich||14||14||Benji Marshall|
|Tim Glasby||15||15||Tevita Pangai Junior|
|Nelson Asofa-Solomona||16||16||Joe Ofahengaue|
|Slade Griffin||17||17||Herman Ese’ese|
|Jahrome Hughes||18||18||David Mead|
|Joe Stimson||20||19||Jai Arrow|
The Facts That Matter
Melbourne are unchanged from their victory over the Eels two weeks ago. The narrow manner of victory in that fixture may well see complacency avoid this time around. As stated earlier, the quality of their tries for Kenny Bromwich and stalwart fullback Billy Slater emphasised why the Storm are Premiership favourites.
They top almost every stat chart and have been the best team in 2017 bar none, so they deserve to be favourites in this match and for the Premiership itself. However, to prevent their opponents from gaining the ascendency, the Storm will want to avoid conceding too many penalties, as they are the second most penalised team.
The Storm’s have only lost twice at home in 2017. Their only loss at home when they were at near full strength was against the Sharks early in the season, with the other loss being against the Eels during the State of Origin period.
Unlike their opponents, the Broncos will welcome back incumbent fullback and captain Boyd and forward Tevita Pangai Jnr. These returns will help bolster the Broncos, in both attack and defence. Despite beating the Panthers last week, they finished the match with a 69% completion rate and missed 41 tackles. If they were to perform against the Storm with similar numbers, one can almost guarantee that they will be punished accordingly.
If there is one thing that the Broncos can learn from the Eels’ performance against the Storm, it is that the Storm can be rattled when their opponents apply a physically intimidating approach. Given the Broncos’ renowned defensive prowess, they should be able to apply similar tactics to greater effect while they are also capable of scoring plenty of points.
If the visitors are to cause an upset then they cannot let Melbourne race into an early lead. As has been the case throughout 2017, to beat the Storm you must be at your best across the park.
Although the Broncos will definitely throw several cars at the Storm, their fatigue at having to advance to the preliminary finals the hard way will ultimately tell in the end. The Storm will capitalise on this with their rock-solid spine of Slater, Munster, Cooper Cronk and skipper Cameron Smith being the difference. Storm by 8.
Which of these two teams will be in the 2017 NRL Grand Final, the Storm or the Broncos? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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