2015 NRL Round 1 Betting Preview for St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm thanks to William Hill Australia.
7pm AEDT, Monday, March 9
Jubilee Oval, Sydney
One of the most intense rivalries in the modern game, the Dragons and Storm rarely put up a bad match. Last year they had a thrilling finish and despite the apparent gulf between the two teams the Dragons will be ready to show up against the Storm.
Cameron Smith – who was expected to miss the first month of the NRL season – has been named to make a comeback for the Storm. Blake Green and Dale Finucane debut for Melbourne. Centre Kurt Mann has beaten Mahe Fonua to a centre berth. For the Dragons, Eto Nabuli makes his top grade debut while George Rose will play his first game for the club. Dane Nielsen and Dylan Farrell have been preferred to Charly Runciman and Euan Aitken in the centres,
Melbourne have dominated St George Illawarra in their rivalry, losing just eight of the 29 matches contested. The Dragons have won four of the last 10 though and have won the last four contests between the two sides in NSW, including a 24-12 victory in the last clash in Round 16 last year. Ten of the last 13 matches have tallied under 40 points. The two teams have met in three finals matches including the infamous 1999 Grand Final. The Dragons have former Storm players Gareth Widdop, Dane Nielsen and George Rose in their side.
Neither the Dragons or the Storm made it past the group stage of the Auckland Nines but both had strong preseasons. The Dragons drew with Souths in the Charity Shield and then defeated Warrington in the World Club Challenge Series while the Storm thumped Canberra and overcame Canterbury in a strong trial. Both hit the season in good form.
Josh Dugan and Billy Slater will likely be the Origin fullbacks this year and meet in the opening Monday night affair of the season. It should be a beauty of a matchup. Dugan is one of the most damaging kick returners in the game while Slater is arguably the best fullback since Clive Churchill. These two players are electric. They have had good preseasons. They will light up Kogarah on Monday.
Stats That Matter
The Storm were a poor 10-15 ATS last season (third worst in the NRL) while they have been a poor 4-9 ATS as a road favourite over the last two seasons. Melbourne are 3-7 ATS when favoured by less than a converted try. The Dragons are 8-6 (6-8 ATS) at Kogarah over the last three seasons with a 10-4 under record. As an underdog at the ground they are 1-4 straight and ATS. Melbourne are 7-4 (5-6 ATS) with an 8-3 under record on Monday nights over the last three seasons while the Dragons are 3-8 straight and ATS with a 6-5 under record. The under has saluted over 63% of the time in night matches with a home underdog of less than a converted try since 2011.
Melbourne are entitled to win this game. The Dragons have recruited as poorly as anyone in the NRL and look to have a forward pack that will be beaten up like they were last season. The Storm have a pretty aggressive pack and that should give them the upper hand over the Dragons, who could be playing on the backfoot all night. Look for the Storm to keep it pretty simple. Craig Bellamy was terribly disappointed with the Storm’s defensive efforts last year and his top priority will be tightening up Melbourne’s play. Expect a fairly close, tight game between two limited attacks and two teams desperate to improve their defences.
How It’s Shaping Up
Melbourne by 4
Under 38.5 ($1.90)
Other Recommended Bets
40/20 – 1 or More ($4.00)
St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 1 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.