Down on troops, the Sydney Roosters will be looking to hold off the Knights and further cement their place in the Top 2.

Last Time Out

Missing a plethora of Origin stars as well as Sio Taukeiaho through injury, the Sydney Roosters took on old foes South Sydney in a match where the odds were against them. Despite the quality of talent missing, the Roosters were able to outlast an error prone Bunnies team and prevail 14-12. Jake Friend played a hand in both tries while Mitch Cornish took his chance at halfback and kept the game on their terms with his long kicking game.
In the process though they lost Michael Gordon for at least 8 weeks to a pectoral injury while Jake Friend fractured his hand at training last week and will miss the next 3 games. Injured Origin skipper Boyd Cordner will also be rested for the clash.

The Newcastle Knights were on the verge of causing a big upset against the Broncos. They were outplaying a Broncos team that were playing in 2nd gear and underestimating their opposition. As has been the recurring story for the Knights in 2017, they went into half-time with a lead only to see it all crumble in the 2nd half, going down 34-22. Some off the cuff play from the Broncos saw them post 5 tries in the 2nd half and condemn the Knights to another week of thinking about what could’ve been.

Key Battle

The halves and who can take charge of the game.

Pearce has been there and done that before with Origin losses and copping all the blame whether it was entirely his fault or not. There’s no question that he’ll be able to brush away the criticism and perform for the Roosters. The question in this game is how well can he play without the service of Jake Friend. His regular No.9 can take a lot of the pressure off with his kicks out of dummy half and his playmaking ability. Without him everything will go through Pearce and it might makes things just that bit more difficult.

The Knights have looked perfectly capable of winning games over the season. It’s the lack of leadership and controls in the halves that has let them down on occasion. The pair of Lamb and Hodkinson need to ensure if they get out to lead, that they can maintain it.
A young player like Brock Lamb is getting a very tough start to his first full year in the halves. He’s learning a lot of harsh lessons but eventually he has to show he’s learning from his mistakes. Hodkinson needs to own that senior playmaker position and rediscover some of that game management that saw him become NSW’s only winning halfback in the last decade.

Prediction

The Roosters are missing two keys member of their spine with Connor Watson and Mitch Cornish playing in vital positions in which they have little first grade experience . The opportunity is there for the Knights to cause an upset but they have shown a distinct inability to close out games.

The Knights will likely go into half-time with a lead once again. New Knights winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall will be keen to have a big game against the club that dumped him after years of loyal service. However the Roosters will show their class and even without key players, they should rally to keep the Knights at bay and record a win. Roosters by 8+

Squads
1. Connor Watson
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Joseph Manu
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Luke Keary
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ©
9. Mitchell Cornish
10. Dylan Napa
11. Ryan Matterson
12. Mitchell Aubusson ©
13. Isaac Liu
Interchange:
14. Kane Evans
15. Sio Siua Taukeiaho
16. Aidan Guerra
17. Victor Radley
Reserves:
18. Zane Tetevano
19. Grant Garvey
20. Chris Smith
21. Nat Butcher

Newcastle Knights
1. Nathan Ross
2. Chanel Mata’utia
3. Dane Gagai
4. Peter Mata’utia
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6. Brock Lamb
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Danny Levi
10. Josh King
11. Sione Mata’utia ©
12. Joe Wardle
13. Mitchell Barnett
Interchange:
14. Jamie Buhrer ©
15. Mickey Paea
16. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
17. Luke Yates
Reserves:
18. Jack Cogger
19. Sam Stone
20. Ken Sio
21. Brendan Elliot