Storm ready for wild Warriors reception

Melissa Woods |

A stadium full of Warriors fans will be willing their side on against the top-of-the-table Storm.
A stadium full of Warriors fans will be willing their side on against the top-of-the-table Storm.

Melbourne are bracing for one of their biggest games of the season as they take on a revengeful Warriors in front of a sold-out home crowd in Auckland.

Star Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes is expecting a hostile reception at Go Media Stadium on Saturday, with the last tickets for the game snapped up three weeks ago.

Melbourne haven’t lost to the Kiwi side in nine years and 15 games but came within 25 seconds of defeat in round two at AAMI Park, when a miracle try at the death by Xavier Coates saw his team take the win.

While the Storm are top of the ladder and the Warriors in 10th, Hughes says there’s likely to be another tight tussle.

“They’re going very well at the moment, I think they’ve won a couple in a row,” said Hughes, who will square off against Warriors veteran Shaun Johnson returns after a month out injured.

“It’s been sold out for a while, so it’s going to be a tough place to go and win.

“Our last couple of matches have been real close ones, so we really need to perform to get the win over these guys.

“We’ve just got to go there and play our style of footy and try to take the crowd out of it.

“We just need to focus on ourselves and play the way we want to play.”

Xavier Coates.
A late and acrobatic Xavier Coates try sealed Melbourne’s win over the Warriors last time out. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Both teams head into the match after victories but Storm coach Craig Bellamy was unhappy his team conceded 28 points in their win over Newcastle.

Hughes said Bellamy was rarely satisfied, but had made a point of the side improving their defence through the middle, where the Knights at times made metres with ease.

Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake has scored four tries in his past five games so will be out to probe any weakness.

“Even if we win by heaps or win by a little bit, he’s the same,” Hughes said of his coach.

“But we probably weren’t happy with our performance … we had a look at the game and there’s probably just a few things we need to work on.

“We got a bit of a spray for our defence … we want them to go around us more than through us so Bellsa (Bellamy) was pretty disappointed at that, so hopefully we can tighten that up this week.

“That’s probably where the game will be won or lost, through the middle.”