Melbourne have endured a difficult season and even with players returning they face a tough matchup with an in-form Raiders side who have a great recent record at AAMI Park.
Melbourne are in the very rare position of having to play a knockout match on the opening weekend of the finals and they get a matchup they desperately would have hoped to avoid. The Storm have a major talent edge on the Raiders but Canberra have been their bogey side and enter the finals with plenty of momentum.
Canberra have won four straight and seven of their last eight. They have had powderpuff games the last two weeks but put them both to the sword with 48-6 and 56-10 victories. Melbourne have had a much tougher run home but losses to the Roosters and Eels is not an ideal preparation.
The Raiders have remarkably won four straight against the Storm at AAMI Park. Included in that run is a 20-16 win in Round 18.
Canberra have a great record as an underdog on the road with 20 covers from 30 while they have covered six of nine getting 6.5 or more. Teams off scoring 50-plus have also covered 21 of 30.
With the Storm not covering any of their last five off a loss, the Raiders with the points are a highly confident play.
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Sebastian Kris is close to the most underrated tryscorer in the competition. He has 14 tries in 18 games this year including seven in his last seven. He scored against Melbourne in that run.
David Nofoaluma has been tremendous since moving to the Storm with four tries in five games including one against the Eels last week.
Hudson Young has enjoyed a remarkable breakout season with the Raiders and that has manifested itself in tryscoring with 13 tries, a stunning return for a forward. He has scored four tries in his last three appearances.
Play Betseeker Bingo for NRL Tryscorers at TopSport! Here are this week’s selections.
At least three of the following four players to score a try in NRL Finals Week 1.
At least two of the following four players to score a try in NRL Finals Week 1.