Tigers, Warriors both NRL threats: Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers, Warriors both NRL threats: Storm

Melissa Woods 14/09/2011 07:22:51 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne won't be cheering the Warriors or Wests Tigers home, believing both sides offer real but different threats to their charge to the NRL grand final.

The minor premiers await the outcome of Friday night's semi-final between the New Zealand side and West Tigers, and will host the winner in Melbourne the following weekend to earn a grand final berth.

With bewitching five-eighth Benji Marshall in career-best form, the Tigers will present the Storm with a defensive headache should they advance, while the Warriors have been a bogey side for Melbourne.

In their last 11 clashes, the Warriors have won five times and also drawn once.

Three of the triumphs - 24-20 in 2006, 18-15 in 2008 and 18-14 in their Anzac Day battle this season - have been on Melbourne's turf.

"We don't really have a preference," Storm skipper Cameron Smith said on Wednesday.

"If we play the Tigers they will have won 10 straight which is great momentum for a preliminary final.

"But if we play against the Warriors, we played them earlier in the year in Melbourne and they beat us here.

"They don't have a fear of travelling to Melbourne to play the Storm.

"It doesn't matter who we play, it's just a matter of making sure we do the best in our situation so we're ready to go."

Smith called the weekend off a "huge bonus" and expected a full squad to be available for coach Craig Bellamy to select from.

Centre Maurice Blair missed their qualifying win over Newcastle with a hamstring problem while five-eighth Gareth Widdop made a miracle recovery from an ankle injury to play after he was initially ruled out for two weeks.

"He (Blair) was almost a chance of playing against the Knights last weekend so I'd like to think that given the two weeks extra recovery he will be right to play," Smith said.

"Obviously Gareth gets an an extra week to get over his injury, although he played really well against the Knights."

Widdop said he could spend more time in the hyperbaric chamber to improve his recovery but said the injury was progressing well.

"I played all year to play in the finals and to get injured in the last match was quite hard," Widdop said.

"But I wouldn't have gone out if I wasn't comfortable and right to play."

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