NUMBERS GAME: WARRIORS V STORM STATS PREVIEW

The Warriors take on the top-of-the-table Melbourne this Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.

The keen rivals will once again compete for the Michael Moore Trophy, named in honour of the Storm’s inaugural Football Manager who died in a tragic accident in Auckland after the teams’ early-2000 clash.

Here are the numbers that matter ahead of this vital NRL Round 13 encounter:

  • 16 – The tally of players that have played for both clubs at some point in their career.

Since the Storm came into the competition in 1998 they have effectively been the benchmark. Finishing third in their first season, the Storm won a premiership in their second. Since then they have won six minor premierships (three stripped), reached eight grand finals and won four NRL titles (two stripped).

  • 44 – This will be the 44th time the Warriors have played against the Storm – the most games that they have played against any other current NRL team – for a record of 16W-2D-25L.

Both sides had the bye last weekend, giving them a chance to refresh. However, the Storm have named four players who will be backing up from State of Origin: Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers, Felise Kaufusi and Cameron Munster. It remains to be seen who will actually be asked to play, with coach Craig Bellamy often favouring resting Origin-weary players in the past.

  • 6 – Historically the Warriors fare well in their first game back after the first bye of the season, having won six-from-six going back to 2013. Ironically, the last time they lost their first game back after the first bye of the season was against Melbourne (2012).

STATE OF ORIGIN 1 PLAYER RATINGS

The first-placed Storm will be looking to take advantage of the Rabbitohs’ shock loss to the Eels last weekend and consolidate their place at the top of the competition ladder.

  • 9 – The last time the Storm sat outside the Top 8 was after a loss at Mt Smart Stadium last year, going down 11-10 to Wests Tigers in a double-header at the ground. Prior to this, they had not been out of the Top 8 since Round 16, 2014.

The Warriors, on the other hand, will be looking to avoid a fourth consecutive home loss this season and get their dream of September football back on track. But are coming up against a real bogey team of late, having not beaten the Storm since 2015.

  • 7 – The Warriors have lost their last seven straight games against the Storm, averaging just 9.42 points per game in that period.
  • 11 – The Warriors’ longest losing streak against one club: 11 – St George-Illawarra (2008-2015); 10 – Brisbane (1995-2000); 7 – Manly (2013-2017).
  • 2015 – David Fusitu’a is the only surviving player from the last time the Warriors beat the Storm, in 2015. Meanwhile, eight of the Storm players from that game have been named this weekend (plus two for the Warriors: Blake Green and Tohu Harris).

THE RIVALRY: WARRIORS V STORM

A key member of Melbourne’s 1999 grand final-winning squad, Stephen Kearney spent a three-year coaching apprenticeship under Craig Bellamy at the Storm. But he has only tasted victory once over his former teacher in his career, in his last match in charge of Parramatta in 2012.

  • 0 – The Warriors have never beaten the Storm in the Stephen Kearney coaching era – zero wins from five attempts.

The Storm have scored the second-most points in the competition this season, averaging 25.36 per game. In comparison the Warriors are more than a converted try behind them with 18.72 per game.

  • 3 – Between them the Warriors and the Storm boast three players within the top 10 tryscoring strike-rates in the NRL: Suliasi Vunivalu (0.82 tries per game), Josh Addo-Carr (0.77) and David Fusitu’a (0.64). The Warriors’ other wingman, Ken Maumalo, is having a breakout season scoring-wise – he already has an equal career-best tally of seven tries from 11 games.
  • 6 – The normally prolific David Fustitu’a – the NRL’s leading try-scorer in 2018 – has scored six tries in seven games against the Storm but has only crossed the tryline twice this season in nine games.

However, in the history of this fixture the Warriors have been starved of points. They average just 14.58 per game against the Storm, dropping to 14.15 per game when playing at home.

  • 14.58 – The Warriors average 14.58 points per game against the Storm, dropping to 14.15 points per game at home – their least against any current NRL side in their history.
  • 12 – The Warriors have scored 12 or less points on five occasions this season, the fourth-most in the NRL.
  • 2 – No Warriors player has ever scored more than two tries in a match against the Storm.

Slow starts seem to be the death knell for the Warriors in recent clashes, with points being hard to come by and the rigid Storm defence proving virtually impossible to break down and mount a comeback.

  • 7 – The Warriors have failed to reach double figures in the first half in seven of their last nine encounters against the Storm, being held to nil on two of those occasions.

Recent signing Kodi Nikorima will he hoping his recent Warriors form helps break his Storm hoodoo. Since his debut with the Broncos in 2015 the playmaker has never tasted success over the Storm.

  • 8 – Kodi Nikorima has never beaten the Storm in eight attempts, losing all eight games whilst playing for the Broncos dating back to 2015. Issac Luke (2W-18L), Ken Maumalo (0W-5L) and Agnatius Paasi (0W-6L) have similarly dismal records against the heavyweight club.
  • 4 – This will be the fourth different Warriors jersey Kodi Nikorima has worn in four games as a Warriors player.

Milestones

Warriors lock Adam Blair will line up against his former club for his 299th NRL game. The maligned enforcer began his first-grade career with the Storm in 2006, playing 121 games in six seasons.

David Fusitu’a requires one try to move clear of Clinton Toopi and Lance Hohaia into outright sixth on the Warriors’ all-time trysoring register. ‘Fus’ has crossed 57 times in 89 games for the club.

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