Melbourne halfback Matt Orford admits the Storm will be hard pressed to maintain its recent good form when it meets the Brett Kimmorley-led Sharks at Cronulla on Saturday night.
Orford believes Kimmorley�s return from an 11-week layoff due to injury, simply strengthens an already formidable Sharks line-up, but he concedes Melbourne would be foolish to focus solely on the former Storm premiership winner.
�With �Noddy� (Kimmorley) coming back into the side it�s going to be a huge boost for them and I�m sure they�ll want to finish the season on a high while ending any momentum we�ve built up recently,� Orford said.
�Obviously we have a bit of an idea of how he plays but you can�t get too tied up with worrying about one player, there�s 17 guys in the other side that we�ve got to be prepared for.
�It�s always going to be hard playing Cronulla no matter who they�ve got in their side, particularly when it�s at their home ground.�
While Kimmorley has not played since Round 13 due to an ongoing hamstring injury, Orford has helped the Storm to two strong wins over the Raiders a fortnight ago and then the Bulldogs last week.
But Orford, who was selected as Kimmorley�s replacement for the NSW State of Origin side earlier this year only to withdraw himself due to injury, is quick to point out Kimmorley�s credentials as one of the NRL�s premier halfbacks. �He�s a quality player and while there�s a chance he might be slightly underdone match fitness-wise, we know just how dangerous he can be, so we�ll have to try and starve him of the ball,� Orford added.
�Going up against an excellent halfback is always tough and even though you�re playing against him, you�re always picking up little things that can improve your own game.�
The clash with Melbourne will be one of the last chances the ninth-placed Sharks have of keeping their season alive, whereas the Storm is aiming to build on its consistency ahead of the upcoming finals series.
�We�ve got to go into this game treating it as a must-win, as I�m sure they will be. We�re on a bit of a roll at the moment and it would be great to keep that going heading into the finals,� Orford explained.
�Not only do we have to prove that we can be a consistent side but we also need to keep up the confidence that we�ve taken out of the last two weeks. We certainly don�t want to lose that now, coming into such an important time of the season.�
Cronulla are one of just three teams in the NRL to have beaten the Storm at home this season � a 10-point win in Round 9 - but the Storm�s 3-3 record at Toyota Park suggests the visitors won�t be overawed by a visit to the Shire.
The last time Melbourne travelled to Cronulla (Round 1, 2003) the Storm pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind win in the final seconds of the match.
�We were pretty lucky to get away with the two points in that match last year but hopefully it won�t come down to that again this week,� Orford said.
�Hopefully we can put in a bit more of a convincing performance than the last time - they also got us in Melbourne earlier this year so we probably owe them one.�
An injury cloud still hangs over Storm forward Kirk Reynoldson as he battles to overcome a calf injury in time for Saturday night�s clash. Reynoldson missed two weeks with a torn calf muscle before returning to the Melbourne side for last week�s win over the Bulldogs.
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