Saturday’s only NRL 2016 Preliminary Final match is between Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders. The opening bounce is set to commence at 20:00 local time with the game to be played at AAMI Park. The home team Melbourne Storm are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders.
When: 20:00 | Saturday 24/09/2016
Where: AAMI Park
Tip: Melbourne Storm at $1.42
Value Bet: Blake Green at $23.00
Storm: 1 Cameron Munster 2 Suliasi Vunivalu 3 William Chambers 4 Cheyse Blair 5 Marika Koroibete 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith 10 Jordan McLean 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Kenneth Bromwich 15 Tim Glasby 16 Christian Welch 17 Ben Hampton 20 Matthew White 21 Felise Kaufusi.
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker (c) 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Junior Paulo 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Iosia Soliola Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Luke Bateman 16 Paul Vaughan 17 Joseph Tapine.
If Melbourne want to play rough, halfback Aidan Sezer says Canberra will happily return serve.
But the Raiders refuse to add their voice to the chorus of complaints about the Storm’s wrestling tactics ahead of their NRL grand final qualifier on Saturday.
North Queensland have alleged that three of their players, including back-rower Ethan Lowe, injured their necks as a result of the minor premiers’ ruck techniques in week one of the finals.
Coach Ricky Stuart avoided any criticism after his side’s semi-final final win over Penrith on Saturday, and his players followed suit on Monday.
“At this level every team is rough and you’re always sore,” Sezer said.
“Hopefully our boys are rough, too, to them.”
Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii said there was a simple way to counter Melbourne’s much-maligned wrestle: to run hard.
“If you run hard, then that’s not going to come into play,” he said.
“We’ve just got to try and be better than Melbourne at what they do.”
Fullback Jack Wighton said he had no concerns about getting injured, agreeing that running over the top of the opposition was the best way to avoid any trouble.
“I think they’re fine – I haven’t been hurt by them,” he said.
The preliminary final, the Raiders’ first in the NRL era, pits the league’s best attacking outfit against its best defenders.
The Green Machine have had the upper hand of late, winning three of their past four clashes at AAMI Park.
They also beat them 22-8 in round 23 at GIO Stadium.
But Sezer admitted the Storm weren’t at their best – attacking-wise – that game and said this weekend was an entirely different prospect.
“It’s playing to get in the grand final, so they’ll be at their best and hopefully we’ll be at our best,” he said.
“But we don’t want to go down there and play into Melbourne’s hands and just play a bit of boring footy.
“We want to test them and hopefully play a bit of Raider footy.
“You can’t hold back in these games; you’ve only got one shot at it.
“We’ve worked hard all year to give ourselves this opportunity so hopefully we can go down there and put in a good performance.”
*Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change