Week 3 of the NRL Finals kicks off on Friday night when Melbourne hosts Brisbane in a match to determine which side will advance to the Grand Final.
Melbourne: Billy Slater; Suliasi Vunivalu, Will Chambers, Curtis Scott, Josh Addo-Carr; Cameron Munster, Cooper Cronk; Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jordan McLean, Felise Kaufusi, Tohu Harris, Dale Finucane. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Slade Griffin, Kenneath Bromwich, Tim Glasby.
Brisbane: Darius Boyd; Corey Oates, James Roberts, Tautau Moga, Jordan Kahu; Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima; Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt, Adam Blair, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire. Benji Marshall, Tevita Pangai Jr, Joe Ofahengaue, Herman Ese’ese.
There have been 42 games played between these two sides, with the Storm winning 28 times to the Broncos 13 wins, while one game has been drawn. They have played 7 finals games with the Storm winning 5 to the Broncos 2, including the last three straight clashes. They last met in Round 17 this year, where the Storm ran up a 42-12 hiding.
Melbourne opened the season in style, starting with a 12-6 win over the Bulldogs in torrential conditions at Belmore. They then travelled to Auckland where they beat the Warriors again in heavy rain. They then held off a strong Broncos side in Round 3 to win 14-12 before overcoming a shocking first half against the lowly Wests Tigers, before running away with a 22-14 victory in the second half. Their defence was epic against Penrith in Round 5 which won them the game. Last week the Storm were unable to avenge their Grand Final defeat to the Sharks, going down 11-2 in miserable weather. They won three straight after, beating Manly 30-26, the Warriors 20-14 and the Dragons 34-22 before losing a high scoring thriller to the Titans 38-36. They bounced back with a stoic defensive effort to beat Souths 14-6 in a dour battle in Perth before Billy Slater annihilated the Knights, leading the Storm to a comfortable 40-12 win. In Round 14 the Storm finally exacted revenge on the Sharks for the 2016 Grand Final with a late try to win 18-13. Their rookies then beat the Cowboys by 1 point before losing by the same margin the next weekend to the Roosters. The Storm then hammered the Broncos 42-12 before dropping their Round 18 game to the Eels 22-6. They then won their last 7 straight games against Canberra, Manly, North Queensland, Sydney, Newcastle, Souths and the Raiders again to comfortably claim the Minor Premiership. In Week 1 of the finals they held out a spirited Parramatta side 18-16.
The Broncos opened the season with a hard fought 26-18 victory over the defending premiers Cronulla in Round 1. In the second round they came up against The Cowboys and proceeded to have yet another nail biter, going down in golden point 21-20. They then travelled down to Melbourne and proceeded to have another tough loss, going down 14-12 against the Storm. In Round 4 they continued their run of tough, close games when they overcame Canberra 13-12. In poor weather the Broncos were beaten by an under fire and out of form Bulldogs side, who won 10-7 in Round 5. Brisbane bounced back with six straight wins, beating the red hot Roosters 32-8; the gutsy Titans 24-22, a controversial one point win over Souths, a comfortable 32-18 victory over Penrith, holding out Manly 24-14 and then a shut out of the Tigers 36-0. They then had a 28-10 loss against the Warriors, with several stars missing due to Origin and then going down in a brilliant battle with the Roosters by 2 in Round 13. They beat Souths 24-18 before the bye and then beat the Raiders by 10. In Round 17 they were hammered 42-12 by the Storm. The Broncos then had to stage a second half surge to beat the bottom placed Knights 34-22 before they thumped a dismal Bulldogs side 42-12. After losing 28-14 to Parramatta the Broncos bounced back by decimating the Titans 54-0 before cruising through a disappointing Cronulla side 32-10. After they beat the Dragons 24-12 the Broncos were surprisingly flogged by the Eels 52-34. They bounced back with a 20-10 win over the Cowboys. In the first week of the finals, The Broncos fell to the Roosters 24-22. Last week they bounced back with a brilliant defensive effort to defeat Penrith 13-6.
Boyd v Slater – Both fullbacks are Origin and Test stars. They both play very different roles, but there’s no doubt that their involvement on the field is pivotal to their respective sides success.
Melbourne are in hot form and playing on home soil. That should be more than enough to see them home here.