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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 17 Aug 2007 11:26:00 GMT
NRL favourites Melbourne Storm tackle contenders Parramatta this Friday night at Olympic Park in Melbourne.

The Eels in recent weeks have shown the skill, toughness and talent they are good enough to win the competition.

Against the Bulldogs they showed ``true grit'' while Manly outplayed them in the second half.
The Sharks exposed an unenthusiastic team who preferred style over substance and lost in golden point time.


I believe however the Eels will prove many people wrong and defeat the Storm.

Melbourne to me look jaded and over trained and over structured. I also have concerns over a few players in the side this close to the finals.

Cameron Smith is Melbourne's best footballer with or without any hair.

The other four key men are Matt Geyer, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Michael Crocker.

Crocker came back from injury last week playing a half a game with feeder club the Devils in Brisbane. He will be back in the seventeen this match.

They need his fire, power running, enthusiasm and guile.

Melbourne have been playing the high intensity game for two years and it's starting to tell. Everything is done at rocket-speed with military-like precision.

However, the ``fast-paced'' game can wear you out even more than the opposition and because you are doing it every week, it has a big affect mentally and physically.

Unless the Storm rediscover the ``zing'' in attack, they won't feature in the grand final.

Parramatta love being underdogs in big games as this takes pressure off the side mentally.

It's when the Eels have the burden of ``they will win'' then their halves Tim Smith and Brett Finch begin to overplay their way in games and get muddled up.

Melbourne's strength is skill, speed and being so well drilled.

Their weakness is the high intensity game and the fact every player is rigid in his thinking of where he should be on the field with and without the ball. This builds stress.

Parramatta's strength is they have big and athletic back rowers and centres who work over the defence at different areas of the field and speed to score from anywhere.

The Eels' weakness is sometimes being impatient in attack and not ``doing the hard yards'' before the width passing, the fancy passing, the flick passing, the trick passing and ill-directed kicks in general play.

Verdict:

The Eels will end the Storm’s undefeated streak at home by seven points while cementing third spot on the competition table. It’s hard to grapple with an outcome from this game. Both teams on their day produce scintillating football that sets apart the contenders from the pretenders.
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