When they are working together, Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks are a lethal attacking team. Last week, they killed Penrith, who were diabolical.
The basics of defence on the short side is you have to number up. If the opposition has three players, you must have three defenders. It’s really important the markers do their job. If the dummy half comes out, you can’t bite on him because then it puts too much pressure on that first defender on the short side.
At some stages, Penrith had two defenders on four. When teams make those sort of mistakes, it means they’re not talking — at all. The guy who needs to be counting numbers on that edge is the winger.
They won’t have such an easy run against Melbourne but I can see the Tigers working the short side again; breaking it down on Brodie Croft and Felise Kaufusi in the tackle before doubling up down the same short side.
Melbourne exploded last week against the Eels after losing to the Sharks the round before. It’s the sign of a truly great team: they never lose two in a row. And they came out with their best performance of the season.
If captain Cameron Smith does have a surprise Origin recall for Queensland in the back of his mind, he will have a huge game. Then again, when does he put in a bad one? The Storm are seven-and-two. If Smith isn’t playing, they probably would’ve lost another three or four.
Sometimes, Farah gets caught up wanting to outdo Smith.
There’s some big match-ups in this game, not least Benji up against Cameron Munster — the old bull versus young bull.
But the interesting one is Smith and Farah. This is where Robbie has to be careful. Sometimes, he gets caught up wanting to outdo Smith. He brings too many tricks to the table. That’s a big challenge for him — to not overplay his hand.
Player to watch
Last year, I spoke to Roosters defensive coach Craig Fitzgibbon about their young backrower Ryan Matterson.
Fitzy reckoned he was one of the best in the comp. A future rep player, for sure. I asked, Why? He said everything that he does has that little bit of polish on it.
Now at the Tigers, Matterson has been doing some really good things on the right side of the field. His cut-out pass for Corey Thompson to score against Penrith was all class.
He will wear sky blue before you know it.
The Storm will make this a real arm wrestle. They will make high completions, have a big kicking game, try to dominate field position and then attempt to win it through their defence. They will suffocate them until they take too many risks. That’s the Melbourne way.
The Storm have found a great young fullback in Ryan Papenhuyzen. He came on late for them against the Eels and set up three tries. Watch tonight as he starts sniffing around the ruck.
Smith will wait until the Tigers have one marker. He will go one side of the ruck, and the marker will chase him. The tight defender on the other side of the ruck will also come at him.
They’re looking for the tight defender on the other side of the ruck to be lazy or under fatigue. That’s when he will throw the ball in front of the guy playing the ball to Papenhuyzen, who will come right through the middle behind the markers.
We’ve seen this play before.
When Warren Ryan coached Newcastle in 1999-2000, we totally changed the way we attacked out of dummy half with our hooker, Danny Buderus.
Wok used this analogy: “If you get the front door ajar, why would you run around the side of the house and jump through the window? Kick the front door down.”
It originated at the Broncos with Kerrod and Kevin Walters and Allan Langer. Then we started doing it at the Knights with myself, Bedsy and Matthew. Then it went to the Cowboys with Aaron Payne, Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen.
Then Smith and Billy Slater took it to another level at Melbourne. Now they’re doing it with Papenhuyzen.
JOEY’S TIP: Storm by 2
FIRST TRYSCORER: Ryan Papenhuyzen
Andrew Johns is an Immortal, a Newcastle great and a commentator for Channel Nine