Last week the Dragons got the win they needed to stay in the finals race, overcoming a disrupted preparation to beat the Cowboys in Wollongong.
But the Cowboys ain't no Storm and it's fair to say the Dragons have to approach Thursday's clash with the kind of intensity, energy and single-minded resolve more suited to a grand final.
The fact they don't have to travel and usually play well in Wollongong should work in their favour, but their opponents clearly don't fear being in enemy territory if their 6-1 road record is any guide.
The Storm held off the Roosters last week to remain alone at the top of the ladder and will like their chances against the hot and cold Dragons.
Match: Dragons v Storm
Round 16 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Dragons: The Dragons are 1-17 as named on Tuesday with Jackson Ford and Tristain Sailor dropping out of the reserves list. Patrick Kaufusi will take on his former side in his club debut for the Dragons. St George Illawarra have won seven of their past nine games at WIN Stadium. Lachlan Timm and Jordan Pereira were the two players omitted 24 hours before game time.
Storm: Marion Seve starts in place of Solomone Kata in Melbourne's only late change. Billy Walters will make his NRL debut at five-eighth. The Storm have won five of their past seven games against the Dragons. Max King and Harry Grant were the two players left out 24 hours out from kick-off.
Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew DuftyFullback for Storm is number 1 Jahrome Hughes
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Jonus PearsonWinger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Storm is number 18 Marion Seve
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Timoteo LafaiCentre for Storm is number 3 Justin Olam
Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele RavalawaWinger for Storm is number 5 Sandor Earl
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Jai FieldFive-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Billy Walters
Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Darren NichollsHalfback for Storm is number 7 Brodie Croft
Prop for Dragons is number 8 Korbin SimsProp for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnesHooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
Prop for Dragons is number 10 Jeremy LatimoreProp for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jacob Host2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Joe Stimson
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Blake LawrieLock for Storm is number 13 Brandon Smith
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Josh KerrInterchange for Storm is number 14 Albert Vete
Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Reece RobsonInterchange for Storm is number 15 Tino Faasuamaleaui
Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Patrick KaufusiInterchange for Storm is number 16 Tui Kamikamica
Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Mitchell AllgoodInterchange for Storm is number 17 Ryan Papenhuyzen
It's the ultimate challenge for every hooker in the game - a head to head meeting with the GOAT. If the Dragons are going to end Melbourne's six-game winning streak, Cameron McInnes has to hold his own against Cameron Smith. McInnes won't shy away and Smith knows he'll be in for a tough battle.
For the Dragons to win
Whether they like it or not, the Dragons have put themselves in such a precarious position that they have to treat every game like it's do or die. That still might not be enough to topple mighty Melbourne but it's a good starting point. The Dragons have to be prepared to match the Storm's methodical power game but also stick to their own game plan and be ready to pounce on any scoring opportunities that might surface.
For the Storm to win
Since losing to the Sharks on the road in round eight, Melbourne have won six straight. Craig Bellamy sometimes looks angry enough to headbutt walls but he has his team humming along nicely toward a top two finish. They will look to wear down the Dragons with their usual uncompromising defence, while Smith and Brodie Croft will be keen to give their outside backs room to move against a suspect Dragons backline.
Brett Kimmorley says
The good news for the Storm is they have got Cameron Smith playing for them. The Storm were great last week against the Roosters. Ryan Papenhuyzen did really well for them in Adelaide. With the Origin players out, watch for others to step up. As for the Dragons, they are losing key players and I’m not too sure the depth will be there to cover for that. Storm by 6
Brodie Croft might be too young to know about Terry Lamb but he does a fair impersonation with his ability to back up teammates. Croft leads the NRL in the player in support category with 244. The Storm boast the best attack and best defence in the league, with an impressive for and against differential of 190.
And another thing ...
Barring injury or suspension, the great Cameron Smith will become the first player to reach 400 games when he lines up for Melbourne's round 17 home meeting with 2016 grand final rivals Cronulla. Cooper Cronk has played the second-most games (362), followed by Darren Lockyer (355), Terry Lamb (350) and Steve Menzies (349).