The Sydney Roosters will be looking to avoid a 3 match losing streak as the Newcastle Knights set out to double their win tally of 2016.

Last Time Out

The Knights had a competitive outing against the Dogs, going down 22-12. Dane Gagai had an absolute blinder of a game but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get his team-mates firing. Their inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities and some leaky edge defence let them down in critical moments. A partially contentious no-try ruling on Sione Mata’utia grounding a grubber in-goal could have changed the momentum in their favour. Ultimately though like most weeks they’ve been able to match it with teams in patches but not across a full game.

The Roosters were simply atrocious against the Broncos. Their tackle attempts resembled boys trying to tackle men. They fell off player after player and the Broncos made so many easy metres from it. A 32-8 scoreline flattered them as by all rights more points should have been piled on them for their efforts. Latrell Mitchell paid the price for a poor performance with a demotion to reserve grade although officially they’re claiming he’s just being rested. Meanwhile others like Shaun Kenny-Dowall will be buying a lottery ticket after somehow managing to survive an axing.

Key Battle

The outside backs. How they make the most of their opportunities in attack and how desperate they are in defence when the game changing moments are there to be had.

Nathan Ross scored an incredible acrobatic try to open the scoring against the Dogs. Leaping up for the ball and tackled in mid-air he planted the ball down smoothly as he came crashing down to the ground. However his edge defence alongside Peter Mata’utia has been incredibly poor. In every single game so far this year the centre or winger of the opposing team has scored down their defensive edge. However Brendan Elliot is becoming more accustomed to the role of fullback each week and Gagai was a major attacking threat last week so the Knights have a solid backline to compete with.

Roosters backs were terrible last week. Kenny-Dowall’s panicked offloads and constant errors put his team under so much pressure it’s a wonder none of his own team-mates got binned for putting one on his chin. Ferguson had a woeful defensive game with 7 missed tackles and Michael Gordon couldn’t kick a goal or keep the ball secured. As he made a line-break and headed to the try-line, Gordon was ankle tapped from behind. He then attempted a Kenny-Dowall esque offload on first tackle and gave the ball back to the Broncos right on their goal-line.

Whoever is able to keep the ball locked up and make the right defensive calls will play a major part in getting the win for their team.

Prediction

The Knights have been competitive in most of their games this year. What lets them down is their ability to close games out and put in a full 80 minute performance. The loss of Jamie Buhrer for 8 weeks is also a major blow for the Knights. His experience and defensive leadership will be sorely missed. The Roosters were absolutely awful last week, it’s fair to say it’d take a special effort to play any worse this week.

The match should be relatively close but the Roosters should be able to find enough points to overcome the Knights. Roosters by 8+

Squads
Newcastle Knights
1 Brendan Elliot
2 Ken Sio
3 Dane Gagai
4 Peter Mata’utia
5. Nathan Ross
6 Brock Lamb
7 Trent Hodkinson (c)
8 Jack Stockwell
9 Danny Levi
10 Josh Starling
11 Sione Mata’utia
16 Joe Wardle
13 Mitchell Barnett
Interchange:*
14 Sam Stone
15 Anthony Tupou
17 Daniel Saifiti
Reserves:
18 Jaelen Feeny
19 Luke Yates
20 Jacob Gagan
21 Jacob Saifiti

*An official replacement has not been named for Jamie Buhrer yet

Sydney Roosters
1 Michael Gordon
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Joseph Manu
4 Blake Ferguson
5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6 Luke Keary
7 Mitchell Pearce
8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9 Jake Friend (c)
10 Isaac Liu
11 Boyd Cordner (c)
12 Mitchell Aubusson
13 Aidan Guerra
Interchange:
14 Kane Evans
15 Zane Tetevano
16 Ryan Matterson
17 Connor Watson
Reserves:
18 Paul Carter
19 Lindsay Collins
22 Jayden Nikorima
23 Siosiua Taukeiaho