After a busy week for Wests Tigers, Sunday’s game against the Melbourne Storm will come as a welcome occasion to put everything behind them and show the Leichhardt Oval crowd exactly how good this team can be in season 2017.
The dismissal of Coach Jason Taylor and promotion of Interim Coach Andrew Webster has attracted plenty of talk and discussion during the week, but perhaps most pressing is being able to turn around the team’s recent form following two heavy defeats.
Webster has named a similar squad for the all-important clash against Melbourne — welcoming back Elijah Taylor after the inspirational forward missed last week’s match due to family reasons. He will slot back in to the starting side, while Jacob Liddle could play just his second game in the NRL after being called into the squad.
For Melbourne, Craig Bellamy’s men come into the match feeling good after their third consecutive win to start the season, but do have a few positional changes to deal with after losing Cameron Munster and Suliasi Vunivalu to injury last week.
Billy Slater will start his first game in almost two years after returning from injury last week, while youngster Ryley Jacks partners the experienced Cooper Cronk in the halves.
Jordan McLean's late withdrawl also pushes Tim Glasby into the starting side.
When these two teams met last season, both matches produced intriguing contests for different reasons. The first was a Golden Point thriller at Leichhardt Oval that Cronk stole with a 30m field goal; the second was a game of two halves as Wests Tigers came roaring back from a 26-0 half-time deficit to almost record their biggest ever comeback.
Melbourne do hold a dominant head-to-head advantage over Wests Tigers — winning 18 of the 28 encounters — but at Leichhardt Oval, have won just four of 12 games.
Date — Sunday, March 26, 2017
Time — 4:00pm AEDT
Venue — Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
TV, LIVE STREAM AND RADIO INFORMATION
TV — Channel 9 and Fox Sports League (Ch.502) from 3:30pm AEDT
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 873 2GB (check local guides)
Live Stream —NRL Digital Pass and Foxtel Go (subscription required)
Referees — Ben Cummins and Chris Butler
Touch Judge — Nick Beashel and Michael Wise
Review Officials — Bernard Sutton and Ben Galea
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Kevin Naiqama 4. Michael Chee-Kam 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Sauaso Sue 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor (Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 15. Josh Aloiai 16. Joel Edwards 18. Justin Hunt 21. Junior Tatola 22. Jacob Liddle).
1. Billy Slater 2. Young Tonumaipea 3. William Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 15. Tim Glasby 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane (Interchange: 14. Christian Welsh 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Vincent Leuluai 18. Mark Nicholls 19. Joe Stimson 20. Justin Olam).
Round 1 — Wests Tigers 34 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
Round 2 — Penrith Panthers 36 def. Wests Tigers 2
Round 3 — Canberra Raiders 46 def. Wests Tigers 6
Round 1 — Melbourne Storm 12 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6
Round 2 — Melbourne Storm 26 def. New Zealand Warriors 10
Round 3 — Melbourne Storm 14 def. Brisbane Broncos 12
· Head-to-Head — Played 28, Melbourne 18, Wests Tigers 10, Drawn 0
· At Leichhardt Oval — Played 12, Wests Tigers 8, Melbourne 4, Drawn 0
· Last Time They Met — Melbourne Storm 29 def. Wests Tigers 20 (Rd.16, 2016)
THREE FINAL FACTS
· Wests Tigers played the Storm at Leichhardt in Marvel Round in 2014, and won.
· David Nofoaluma leads the NRL in offloads (11) and tackle breaks (24) after Round 3.
· A Melbourne victory would be Craig Bellamy’s 250th NRL coaching win.