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Storm vs Raiders - Melbourne to salute in top-four battle

Melbourne and Canberra meet at Aami Park in what is a great warm-up for finals football. Our expert predicts this to go the way of one side.
Jahrome Hughes
Jahrome Hughes returns to the well oiled Melbourne Storm this Saturday.

Storm vs Raiders Preview, Predictions & Betting

The game of the weekend is on Saturday evening as the top of the table Melbourne Storm host the third-placed Canberra Raiders.

The Storm are coming off back-to-back victories with their latest against another top-four side in the Rabbitohs. The scoreline flattered Souths as the men in purple control the entire contest. 

Canberra went close to beating the defending premiers in Sydney last weekend but the class of the Roosters shone through. Canberra was in the game for the full 80 minutes, only being down by four points with 15 minutes to go. 

Ultimately the Green Machine couldn’t crack the defence late, leaving them empty handed.

The Storm rarely lose at home and we're confident the top of the table team register yet another win at AAMI Park.

Storm Team News

The Storm have made two changes to the side that beat South Sydney last weekend.

The home side welcomes back fullback Jahrome Hughes who sat out the clash with the Rabbitohs with back spasms. He replaced rookie Nicho Hynes who was impressive on debut.

The only other change is to the bench where the talented Ryan Papenhuyzen comes back onto the bench in the place of Billy Walters.

With both Hughes and Papahuyzen coming back into the line-up.

Raiders Team News

One massive change for the Raiders team that went down to the Sydney Roosters last weekend, with Joey Leilua makes his return after a long lay-off with a neck injury. 

He will now match-up with another big centre in Justin Olam which will be a great tussle on the right side of the field.

With Leilua returning, the flow-on effect pushed Nick Cotric to the left-wing and Bailey Simonsson to the bench.

Ricky Stuart still may make a change with either Simonsson or Havili nailing that last bench spot.

Storm vs Raiders Head To Head

Melbourne has been nothing but dominant over the Raiders in recent times and will be looking for their sixth win in a row over the Green Machine.

Since entering the competition in 1998, the Storm has owned this fixture, winning 31 of a possible 42 match ups.

Melbourne has owned the Raiders recently too, winning eight of their last ten contests.

Storm vs Raiders Match Up

The match-up to focus on is the battle of the young talented fullbacks in Jahrome Hughes and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Jahrome Hughes has been just one of the cogs in Melbourne that keep the whole thing ticking over. He isn’t the flashiest fullback, but he does his job week in and week out. One thing he does have over his opposite number is ball-playing skills. Hughes has assisted in eight tries for the Storm, which ranks him in the top 25 and what makes it more impressive is that he is tied with playmakers like Kalyn Ponga, Blake Green, Nathan Cleary and ahead of Cooper Cronk.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has taken the NRL by storm this year and has been a shining light in the Raiders outfit. He isn’t a ball playing fullback like some, but he can run the football hard and fast. At this stage of the season, Nicoll-Klokstad ranks third in the NRL for tackle-breaks with 88 and third for total run metres with 3273, averaging 173.7 metres a game. But where the Storm will have their hands full is stopping him on his kick returns. He leads the lead in kick return metres with 1400, which is 327 metres in front of the next best who is James Tedesco.

Hughes has the slight edge with his ball-playing skills, but if the Storm isn't careful, Nicoll-Klokstad can make their afternoon tougher.

Storm vs Raiders Key Statistics

•  Melbourne boasts the best attack in the NRL with 529 points, averaging 26 points a game
•  Melbourne has the best defence in the NRL with only 248 points against, averaging 12 points against them a game
•  Canberra leads the league in dummy-half runs with 345, 60 more than the next best

Verdict

Melbourne should make it be too strong for the third placed Canberra at home on Saturday night.

The Storm are well managed and will look to show that against another top team heading into the finals. 

Canberra will be in it a long way, but Melbourne will out-class them in the end, which should ensure they cover the line.

Line Bet: Melbourne -6.5 @ 2.00 at Ladbrokes Australia - 10 Units
To A Try Score At Anytime: Jahrome Hughes @ 2.80 at Beteasy - 10 Units

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