NRL Match Preview: Key match-ups v Melbourne
Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 23 Melbourne 15, Wests Tigers 8
AT LEICHHARDT OVAL: Played 9 - Wests Tigers 6, Melbourne 3
LAST TIME: Round 5, 2013 Melbourne 26 defeated Wests Tigers 12
BIGGEST HEAD TO HEAD WINS:
Wests Tigers 40 defeated Melbourne 10 at Leichhardt Oval, 2001.
Melbourne 64 defeated Wests Tigers 0 at Etihad Stadium, 2001.
Liam Fulton v Kevin Proctor
Liam Fulton and Kevin Proctor will go up against each other in the battle of the back-row this Saturday at Leichhardt Oval. Although Fulton and Proctor have a different style of play, both players are key members of their respective sides.
One of just five Wests Tigers players with 100 NRL games to their name in the side that played Canberra last week, Fulton orchestrated an upset win at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Thrown into dummy-half midway through the match when starting hooker Masada Iosefa broke his forearm, Fulton topped the tackle count for the Wests Tigers with 45 tackles. While this affected his hit ups (8 runs for 62 metres), Fulton slotted into the position with ease, leading the second half comeback. Last weekends tackling effort wasnt a one-off; the hard-working back-rower has averaged 37 tackles per game in 2013.
A powerful running style and a big-hitter in defence, Proctor will be one to watch this Saturday. During Monday nights 18-12 loss to the Titans, Proctor turned in his first 80 minute match of 2013; making 32 tackles, 1 line-break, and 14 hit-ups for 124 metres. Edging towards 100 first grade games, look out for big performance from the New Zealand international.
Adam Blair v Jesse Bromwich
Adam Blair comes up against his former team-mates this weekend, coming up against young gun Jesse Bromwich. The Blair and Bromwich battle will be a bruising one as both Kiwi internationals lead the charge up front.
Blair has played all 14 games this year; with Joel Reddy and Jack Buchanan the only other Wests Tigers to do so. Blair was another senior player that lifted last week in an inexperienced side, recording a season high 20 hit-ups for 140 metres, combined with 25 tackles. With 158 first grade games under his belt, Blairs leadership amongst young props Buchanan and Ava Seumanufagai will prove valuable against an experienced Melbourne pack.
Bursting onto the NRL scene in 2010, Bromwich quickly made a name for himself, earning a New Zealand jersey just two-years later (2012). Bromwich hasnt missed a game this year for the Storm, making over 100 metres in 11 out of 14 matches. Last week against the Titans, Bromwich made 24 tackles, one offload and 10 hit-ups for 103 metres. Coming up against former teammate Blair will be a good test for the 24-year-old as they both push for a spot in New Zealands World Cup squad at the end of the year.
David Nofoaluma v Justin ONeill
When it comes to exciting match-ups it doesnt get much better than this. Talented Wests Tigers rookie David Nofoaluma comes up against Melbournes Justin ONeill in an attacking showdown not to be missed.
Since debuting in the tough Round 10 match against South Sydney, Nofoaluma has provided some spark down the right edge for the Wests Tigers. Scoring four tries in five games, the Campbelltown Collegians Junior leads the way in the line-breaks tally with six. Two of the six line-breaks came last week against the Raiders with Nofoaluma scoring a try and taking 12 runs for 140 metres in another standout performance. The winger returns to Leichhardt Oval this Saturday for the first time since scoring the match-winning try in the dying seconds against North Queensland.
On standby for the Queensland Origin side this series, ONeill is another Melbourne young gun that has impressed in a relatively short career. Despite only scoring 5 tries in ten games this season, ONeill still holds an impressive career strike rate with 30 tries in 52 games. On Monday night against the Titans, ONeill made an incredible 169 metres from 20 runs. The towering winger stands at 186 centimetres tall and will no doubt be a target for halves pairing Cooper Cronk and Brett Finch with their cross-field kicks.
BUY TICKETS TO WESTS TIGERS V MELBOURNE
WESTS TIGERS BOOT PARTY
MATCH DAY INFORMATION v STORM