Melbourne Storm rookie Billy Slater is adamant this Sunday?s crucial clash with Parramatta will be a fight to the final bell as both teams look to keep their finals hopes alive.
With so much riding on this week?s match Slater is well aware that the Storm will face a vastly different Eels outfit to the one narrowly disposed of in Parramatta earlier this year.
?The Eels are definitely a lot stronger heading into this match compared to when we met them in round 11,? Slater admitted.
?They were struggling at the start of the year but they?re really playing some good football now and I honestly think Sunday?s game is going to go down to the full 80 minutes.?
A win for the home side will further enhance Melbourne?s finals chances whereas a loss for the Eels will all but end their post-season aspirations.
?The Eels are treating every game as their grand final now and I think they?ll be extremely hungry,? the Storm fullback said.
?We?re not focusing on finals or anything like that at the moment, our main outlook is to the Eels and that?s it.?
The Storm?s initial encounter with Parramatta turned out to be a cliffhanger with Melbourne walking away with a hard-fought 12-10 win.
Slater was a key player in the outcome after Parramatta second-rower Lee Hopkins made the crucial mistake of holding down the Storm rookie in a tackle just three metres out from the Eels? line with one minute remaining on the clock. Halfback Matt Orford calmly slotted the resulting penalty goal and Melbourne snatched the narrowest of victories.
20-year-old Slater is hoping this week?s match won?t be quite so dramatic.
?Hopefully that (last minute penalty) won?t determine the game again this Sunday,? Slater added.
Since bursting on to the scene in round one Slater has been the NRL?s surprise packet of the year so far.
His 15 tries from 21 matches have him ranked equal fourth on the NRL?s top try-scorer?s list but the last few weeks he has found the going tough.
?I think it?s fair to say that I?ve been struggling a little bit over the past couple of weeks and that I?m in a bit of form slump,? the former track work jockey said.
?Hopefully this week I can get back on the horse and as a team we can get rid of some of the mistakes that cost us badly last week against the Bulldogs.?
Melbourne will conduct a final training session at Olympic Park tomorrow (10.30am) ? no changes to the named line-up are expected.
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]Like