Whilst the Panthers provided meek opposition at times, the Tigers will have to find another level tonight against a Melbourne team that destroyed the Eels in magic round last weekend winning 64-10 in their most impressive performance of the season.
Wests Tigers managed a rare double over the Storm last year winning 10-8 in Melbourne in Round 2 before backing that up with an 11-10 victory in Round 5 in Auckland as part of a double header.
Overall though the Tigers have an awful record in Melbourne having won their just twice since the joint venture was formed in 2000. Overall the Storm had win 19 games to the Wests Tigers 12 in the head to head ranks.
The Storm will enter the clash as firm favourites and look to have a clear edge in speed and class in the backline, at least on paper.
Whilst the Tigers backline has struggled at times year they did combine between them for 5 tries last week with he return of Benji Marshall making the spine a stronger proposition.
Here Wests Tigers Podcast previews the key match ups in the spine for tonights clash:
Fullback – Moses Mbye v Ryan Papernhauzen
Interesting matchup at the back as the Tigers captain looks to resdicover his best form against a young upstart from the Storm.
Mbye has had a slow start to the year struggling for consistency in his game on both attack and defence and under the high ball. However he got back to near his best last week scoring a try, whilst saving 2 and being heavily involved in general play.
Papanhauzen was identified by the Storm recruiters when hew was sitting behind James Tedesco, playing for the Wests Tigers under 20s.
Whilst he is slight at just 80Kg he has speed to burn and is a potential rep player of the future, especially under Bellamy’s guidance.
Five Eight – Benji Marshall v Cameron Munster
It’s the veteran that has done it all up against a player that could do it all. Marshall has managed just 4 games so far this year but the Tigers have won 3 of those.
He also played in 12 victories from 21 starts this year with Luke Brooks appearing to play his best football with Marshall along side him.
Whilst he is not the explosive force he was in the Mid 2000’s Marshall appears to provide better balance and leadership to this Tigers team.
Munster has played a starring role for the Storm and Maroons winning a Premiership and a Origin series already in his career with rumour emerging that he could be in line to captain Queensland this season.
The Storm five-eights running game can be especially dangerous on the left hand side and the Tigers defence will have to be on guard.
Halfback – Brodie Croft v Luke Brooks
Luke Brooks got the better of Braid Croft in both match ups last season as the Tigers beat the Storm twice inside the opening 5 rounds.
Brooks scored the match winning try in the final 2 minutes of the Tigers 10-8 victory at AAMI Park in Round 2.
Croft was dropped from the Storm side after their Round 5 loss to the Tigers but rebounded to play a big role in the side making the Grand Final.
Hooker – Cameron Smith v Robbie Farah
The two old stagers are still vitals cogs of their side even as they enter their mid-30s and twilight of their careers.
Smith and Farah have enjoyed several great battles over the years in both club football and the Origin as both duelled for several years to be the premier hooker in the NRL.
Farah has starred this year for the Tigers after returning to the club in mid-2018, whilst Smith continues to play outstanding football for the Storm despite the losses of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.