The Melbourne Storm are one game ahead of Penrith and South Sydney for the minor premiership, so beating the Gold Coast Titans on Thursday is huge.
It’s also a big game for the Titans, who are in seventh place and looking to grip onto a playoff spot. However, the online sportsbook predicts a one-sided game, so it could be Melbourne’s to lose.
With only three rounds left, every game has significant importance. Round 23 of the NRL could decide the fate of many teams and it all starts with Storm vs Titans.
Storm Extend Winning Streak
There is no slowing down the Melbourne Storm. They haven’t lost since Round Three when the Penrith Panthers won with a late try.
It has been a total domination since, including a 26-16 win against the Canberra Raiders last week. We have seen the Storm perform better, but they’re doing enough to keep the streak alive and they’re the premiership favorites for a reason.
Losing Jahrome Hughes to a concussion is a big blow. He was hit high late in the win against the Raiders, and he joins Dale Finucane on the sidelines.
— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) August 13, 2021
Former Sydney Rooster star Ian Schubert, who played on a team that scored 19 wins in a row during the 1970s, believes the Storm are known for finding quality players to replace those injured.
“Even though they lose players,” Schubert told ABC Australia. “They replace them with people some would call lesser names, and all of a sudden those lesser names have got a grand final badge on their mantelpiece.”
Melbourne has defeated three top-eight teams in the last three weeks. A 37-10 win over the second-place Panthers was followed by a 28-18 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles. Those wins bode well for future success and the Storm should finish the regular season with only two losses.
NRL betting markets have the Storm as overwhelming favorites to beat Gold Coast. They are the 21½-point favorites, which is a hefty line to cover without Hughes and against a team desperate for success.
Task Made Harder for Titans
Expectations were high to start the season for the Gold Coast Titans, but a losing culture is tough to turn around.
They currently occupy seventh, but are dangerously close to missing out on the playoffs. They face the Storm, Knights and Warriors over the next three weeks, which is no easy task, starting with the Storm on Thursday.
Losing representative fullback Alex Brimson is a huge loss for the Titans, who were thumped by the South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-6 last week. It was a dismal defensive effort from the Titans, who had won their last three games against the Dragons, Bulldogs and Cowboys.
Brimson suffered a fractured jaw and will likely miss the rest of the season.
“AJ has been to see a surgeon today and we are now waiting for further information,” said Gold Coast high performance manager Klint Hoar.
— NRL (@NRL) May 9, 2019
Beating the top teams has been an issue and it doesn’t get much harder than the Storm. We don’t think they have any chance of winning, but covering the points spread is entirely possible. A line of 21½ is a sizable head start, even for a team that is outclassed on paper.
It will take a big defensive effort, which is made harder by Brimson being out of the lineup. The players need to show some strength and hold out the likes of Josh Addo-Carr and Justin Olam, which is easier said than done.
In favor of the Titans covering the spread is their 20-14 loss to the Storm. It was only a six-point margin, so the Titans have a significant margin with which to work.
Playing at Cbus Super Stadium will help the Titans, but if they let the Storm get on top early, it’s a long way back.
Storm vs Titans Pick
Most of the betting money has come for the Titans to cover the spread. Many Thursday NRL games are one-sided, and we’re expecting more of the same.
The margin of victory has never been bigger in the NRL and we can’t see the Titans sticking with the Storm twice in a season.
Bettors will likely come for the Storm later in the week, which could see the line move. We suggest locking in the -21½ early for a Storm team that has the ability to put 40 points on the Titans.