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NRL Match Preview

PREVIEW: Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights

It’s the battle between the teams positioned 15th and 16th to earn only their second win of the year coming into Round 9 and needless to say both teams will be desperate. The Roosters will very much welcome the returns of Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to the team while the Knights will be without Jarrod Mullen for the foreseeable future as he went down with another hamstring injury against Manly.

Last Time Out

The Roosters once again came very close to a victory but ultimately fell short, going down by 2 points to the Dragons. It was the fifth game they have lost by a margin of 4 points or less this year. Errors and a poor kicking game made it difficult for them to mount pressure and a few mistakes by the outside backs saw the Dragons score a few opportunistic tries.

The Knights were a little unlucky last week in their match against Manly as the final scoreline didn’t reflect the effort that was there and they had 3 tries turned down by the bunker. A particularly contentious one being disallowed was over a 50/50 call on a grounding by Nathan Ross that was sent up as a try but overturned. They also lost new signing Peter Mata’utia to a knee injury within the first half an hour and Jarrod Mullen went down as he made a break up the field late in the game.

Key Battle

The performance of each team’s forward pack and how it will give their halves an opportunity to create something. The Roosters will benefit from having Boyd Cordner and JWH amongst their ranks once again but the onus is still on the rest of the forwards to lift their game and not think it’ll all fall into place now the team is almost back at full strength. They were error-prone and ill-disciplined last week so it’s more than just go-forward they’ll have to work on.

For the Knights to have a chance of winning they’ll have to aim up against a Roosters team that could have a renewed spring in their step. The Sims brothers will have to take the fight to them and set the platform for Hodkinson to dictate the terms of the game and he will have sole responsibility of guiding the team around.

Prediction

The Knights put in a good performance against Manly but with the loss of Mullen and a team line-up that seems to change every week I don’t see the Knights being able to put together enough points to win. If the Knights start to get on a roll though and can get back to back tries at any stage then it spells trouble for the Roosters who have had problems with closing out games.
The return of the Roosters star players doesn’t guarantee they’ll start playing well but it should be enough to inspire a spirited performance from them. Mitchell Pearce’s experience in the halves should ensure a victory doesn’t elude them this time. Roosters by 10+

SQUADS

Sydney Roosters
1 Latrell Mitchell
2 Joe Burgess
3 Mitchell Aubusson
4 Blake Ferguson
5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6 Jackson Hastings
7 Mitchell Pearce
8 Sam Moa
9 Jake Friend (c)
10 Dylan Napa
11 Boyd Cordner
12 Aidan Guerra
13 Isaac Liu
Interchange:
14 Kane Evans
15 Eloni Vunakece
16 Ryan Matterson
17 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
18 Connor Watson

Newcastle Knights
1 Dane Gagai
2 Nathan Ross
3 Sione Mata’utia
4 Pat Mata’utia
5 Akuila Uate
6 Will Pearsall*
7 Trent Hodkinson
8 Sam Mataora*
9 Danny Levi
10 Daniel Saifiti
11 Tariq Sims
12 Korbin Sims
13 Jeremy Smith
Interchange:
14 Tyler Randell
15 David Bhana
16 Jacob Saifiti
17 Pauli Pauli
18 Brock Lamb*
19 Jack Stockwell
20 Mickey Paea

*Mataora is likely to be suspended.
*Pearsall has been training at Hooker during the week and Lamb looks likely to play 5/8 on the weekend

Roosters fan, a club proud to be developing local juniors and being compliant with the cap. League is the greatest game of all, Tennis pretty close behind.

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