MELBOURNE STORM v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 24, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Monday August 24, 7pm
Venue: AAMI Park
Referee: Henry Perenara
Last time they met:
In one of the greatest fight backs of the 2014 season the Knights came from 10 points down with five minutes to play to beat Melbourne 32-30 in Round 22.
From the 33 times these sides have met, the Knights are marginally behind with 14 wins.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Gidley (c), 7. Tyrone Roberts, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Adam Clydsdale, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Jeremy Smith. Bench: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Joseph Tapine, 16. Chris Houston, 17. Clint Newton, 18. Sam Mataora.
1. Cameron Munster, 2. Marika Koroibete, 3. William Chambers, 4. Kurt Mann, 5. Matt Duffie, 6. Blake Green, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Dale Finucane. Bench: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 15. Kenny Bromwich, 16. Felise Kaufusi, 17. Christian Welch.
Last week the red and blues channelled the playing style of their interim coach to pull off a hard-fought win against the Tigers.
This week they come up against a side that has mastered the Danny Buderus approach to rugby league.
The Storm will see the match against the Knights as an opportunity to back up their total domination of the Cronulla Sharks last round, which means the red and blues will again have to draw inspiration from the Buderus mentality.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Danny, and watching him put his own thoughts around the preparation and the things he thinks we need to be better at,” Director of Football Michael Hagan says of Buderus.
“I think it’s starting to show in the way the team is playing, but having said that we’re very much going to be challenged again on Monday night in Melbourne.”
All the talk this week has been around the Storm’s ability around the ruck.
“That’s always something that they’ve been particularly good at, defensively they’re certainly one of the better teams,” Hagan agrees.
“The team has worked really hard over the last three weeks on their preparation and their defence, so it’s a big challenge against Melbourne who are good at those things.”
The Storm also have a new young star that has shone brightly in his last few games for the club.
Cameron Munster has filled in for the injured Billy Slater at fullback, excelling with six tries in his 14 appearances.
“He’s been in their system for two or three years and is doing a really good job in the absence of Billy Slater,” Hagan says.
“He plays in a similar way, supporting the ball well with good speed and awareness of the game.”
The Knights have a similar young gun at the back in Jake Mamo, and while he has only played six games this season, he already has three tries to his name.
“Munster is obviously getting more confidence with the more games he plays, not unlike Jake,” Hagan says.
“That’ll be a good battle between those two on Monday night.”
Another player that will be looking to have a big game is Akuila Uate, who put in a strong shift against the Tigers after receiving criticism from some quarters.
“It was his second game in after being out for a month, and I thought his carries were really strong,” Hagan says.
“He scored a good try early in the game and defensively was a lot better.
“If he’s confident and he’s running well, then he’ll be a big contributor on Monday night.”
Where it will be won:
“You’ve got to give credit to Melbourne’s organisers, they’ve got Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk there who will be critical to that field position and patience that they play with,” Hagan says.
“I thought our halves and our field position game was really good against the Tigers, so that’ll be a really critical match-up this week.”
The Final Word:
“They are the benchmark of the defensive side of the game so our wrestle, defence and overall game has to be on top," Sione Mata'utia said on Wednesday.