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NRL Rugby league tonight Preview: Storm v Knights

Round 24 wraps up with Melbourne hosting Newcastle in what looks a one-sided affair on paper. The Storm continue to push hard for a top four berth while the Knights will be keen to give Danny Buderus his second win.   

Selection NotesBoth teams are unchanged after wins last week.
HistoryMelbourne hold a 19-14 all-time advantage over Newcastle. The Storm have won 14 of the last 18 but the Knights have claimed two of the last three including an elimination final in 2013 and a 32-30 win in Newcastle last season. The Storm have won six of the seven played all-time at AAMI Park. Akuila Uate has scored in four straight against the Storm. Knights lock Jeremy Smith and benchman Clint Newton are ex-Storm forwards. 
Form
Melbourne are fifth on the ladder and have the third best differential in the NRL. They rate second in defence and seventh in attack and have won four of their last five. They enter this off a 30-2 drubbing of Cronulla and have posted 30-plus in three of their last five. The Storm are 6-3 at home this year while they are 6-5 against teams outside the eight. Newcastle have won just three games since Round 4 but enter this off a win against the Wests Tigers. They sit 15th on the ladder, have the second worst differential, the second worst defence and the ninth ranked attack. Against Top 8 teams they are 1-9 and have lost their last four all by more than 16 points. Away from Hunter Stadium they are 3-7 this year. 
Key Matchup
The battle of promising young fullbacks Cameron Munster and Jake Mamo should be a compelling battle. Both look long-term NRL players with Munster a deft ball player and courageous catcher while Mamo is an out-and-out speed machine with high energy. They are both looking to establish top grade careers and with key injuries to both teams they will get a big chance on Monday.
Stats That Matter
Melbourne are 14-7 under this year and 11-10 ATS while the Knights are 11-10 over and 9-12 ATS. The Storm have covered their last four at home but are 6-10 ATS when favoured by double figure odds since 2013. The Knights have covered just two of their last 11 on the road and are 22-15 in road games since ’13 but have gone over in five of their last 16. They have covered just one of their last four when getting more than a converted try as start. The Knights are 11-6 under off a win when on the road but have covered just one of their last five. 
Final Thoughts
Newcastle are hopeless and have been absolutely smashed by an semi competent team they have run into in recent times. The Storm are firing and can smell a top four berth. Laying a big start with the Storm is a dangerous proposition but against a shell of a team like the Knights it is worth a nudge.   

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