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Melbourne Storm can all but wrap up the minor premiership if they conquer the Sydney Roosters in their top two showdown on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
Currently enjoying a four-point buffer on the second-placed Roosters, the Storm can pretty much secure the minor premiership by notching up a 17th win for the season on Saturday night.
Melbourne have been almost unstoppable this season and are the clear front-runners to capture another premiership under the tenure of super coach Craig Bellamy.
After a somewhat scrappy victory over the Cowboys last week, Melbourne will be aiming to deliver are more rounded and polished performance on Saturday, so expect Bellamy to instil a finals mentality into his troops.
But in reality, apart from injuries to Cameron Munster and Tohu Harris, the Storm have no real worries as they prepare for another tilt at the premiership in September.
On the other hands, the Roosters – despite sitting pretty in second spot – aren’t firing on all cylinders, and when they’ve come up against red-hot competition over the last month or so, they haven’t been able to keep up.
They leaked 40+ points against Cronulla not so long ago, while they also conceded 36 against Manly last week, illustrating that their defence isn’t up to scratch when playing big games against the best teams.
With the Storm keen to maintain their roll on through to the end of the regular season, the Roosters will need to be at their best to contain them.
And when you consider the Roosters barely escaped with a 25-24 win over a Storm side missing their ‘Big 3’ back in Round 16, you have your doubts about them getting over the line at AAMI Park. Look for Melbourne to make another statement and come away with a comfortable victory.
Melbourne have named the same team that toppled the Cowboys last week, while the Roosters welcome back Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner from injury, with Joseph Manu coming onto the wing in place of the injured Daniel Tupou.
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tim Glasby 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Joe Stimson 13. Dale Finucane 14. Kenneath Bromwich 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Jordan McLean 17. Slade Griffin 18. Tui Kamikamica 19. Jahrome Hughes 20. Robbie Rochow 21. Brodie Croft.
Roosters: 1. Connor Watson 2. Joseph Manu 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Isaac Liu 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Victor Radley 18. Kane Evans 19. Mitchell Cornish 20. Lindsay Collins 21. Chris Smith.