7.30pm (AEST), Saturday, April 18
AAMI Park, Melbourne
The clinical Melbourne Storm keep finding ways to win, but they face a much sterner test this week against a Sydney Roosters outfit brooding over two straight losses.
Melbourne have named an identical 17 to last week, but Ben Hampton, Kenny Bromwich, Hymel Hunt and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs are on an eight-man bench. Roosters co-captain Jake Friend makes his first start of the season, which sees Matt McIlwrick slip back to the bench. Sam Moa is out suspended and will be replaced in the front-row by Dylan Napa, with Lagi Setu joining the interchange.
Melbourne holds a narrow 14-13 advantage since 1998, including 10-5 as the home side. The Roosters won twice against the Storm in 2014 – 32-12 at AAMI and 24-12 at Allianz – on the back of a run of just two wins in eight games (and four wins in 14) against the southerners.
The Storm have bounced back superbly from their heart-breaking golden point loss to the Cowboys, trouncing the Warriors on Easter Monday before somehow eking out a 14-10 victory in Canberra after trailing 10-2 during the first half. The Roosters have lost their last two: a 20-12 boilover against Cronulla and a 22-18 golden point defeat to Brisbane. The second-placed Storm are ranked fourth in attack and second in defence, while the sixth-placed Roosters are first and fourth respectively.
An Origin preview? Mitchell Pearce is gunning for a NSW recall and he can take a giant step towards that by outplaying Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk. The Roosters No.7 will not have enjoyed being overshadowed by Broncos linchpin Ben Hunt last Friday.
Stats That Matter
Melbourne are 18-11 at home since the start of 2013, but just 11-18 against the start. Rarely underdogs at AAMI Park, the Storm are 1-2 overall and against the start as home outsiders. The Roosters are 18-10 on the road (14-14 ATS) over the last three seasons, including 6-3 (4-5 ATS) interstate. The Roosters’ Saturday night away record is 5-1 (4-2 against the line), while the Storm are 5-2 (3-4 ATS) at home in that timeslot.
This is a crunch game for the Roosters and they badly need a complete performance from their halves. As impressive as the Storm have been, the continued absence of Billy Slater is a setback – particularly with in-form Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the Tricolours’ No.1 jumper. Jesse Bromwich’s battle with the vaunted Roosters pack will be crucial. Expect the Roosters to get over the line late in a tight and tough one, with the 1-12 margins and the under the options to keep safe.
How It’s Shaping Up
Roosters by 6
Roosters -2.5 ($2.10)
Other Recommended Bets
Under 38pts ($1.90)
2015 NRL Round 7 Betting Preview for Melbourne vs Sydney Roosters thanks to William Hill Australia.
Melbourne vs Sydney Roosters Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 7 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.