Foundation clubs the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney open round six at Allianz Stadium (SFS) on Thursday night. The Roosters will wear their heritage jersey for the traditional clash.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After recruiting Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco, everyone expected the Roosters to be unbeatable. The Roosters sit fifth after five rounds with a 3-2 record. They started with a 10-8 loss to Wests Tigers then went on to convincingly beat Canterbury (30-12) and Newcastle (38-8). Their winning run was interrupted with a big Allianz Stadium loss to the unbeaten NZ Warriors (30-6) before beating Cronulla 28-10 at Shark Park to briefly sit in the top four.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
After an extended premiership hangover (finishing 12th in 2016 and 2017), Souths are gradually improving, sitting 10th with a 2-3 record. They lost 32-20 to the Warriors in Perth and led Penrith 14-0 before losing 18-14. They rebounded with a 34-6 win over Manly and a great comeback win over Canterbury on Good Friday (20-16) – trailing 16-10 with five minutes left. They nearly beat St. George-Illawarra at Kogarah last Friday, coming from 16-2 down with 10 minutes left to lose 16-12.
The Roosters have named the same starting 17 that beat Cronulla last Friday night. Nat Butcher, Kurt Baptiste, Mitchell Cornish and Frank-Paul Nuuausala are on the reserves bench.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Richie Kennar is in the starting XIII – for Hymel Hunt – on the left-wing. Dane Gagai moves into the centres. Robbie Farah, Hunt, Campbell Graham and Kyle Turner are on the reserves bench.
The Roosters swept past Souths twice last season, enroute to a second-place finish. They won 20-6 in round four (ANZ Stadium) and 14-12 in round 18 (SFS). Michael Gordon, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou scored for the Roosters in round four (with four goals to Gordon). The rematch at the SFS was much closer, with two tries each (Aidan Guerra and Joseph Manu for the Roosters; Robbie Farah and Bryson Goodwin for Souths). An extra penalty goal to Gordon (kicking three from three) was enough for the Roosters.
The big battle is between strike weapons James Tedesco and Greg Inglis. Tedesco and Inglis have both scored two tries this season, with Inglis rebounding after playing just one game in 2017. After leaving the then-struggling Wests Tigers, Tedesco seems to be thriving with a powerful Roosters side.
The Roosters have dominated since 1998, winning 24 from 35 games. Overall, they’ve played 238 games, with 123 wins to Souths, 109 wins to the Roosters and six draws.
Sydney Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Reece Robinson, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Joseph Manu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Boyd Cordner (c), 12 Ryan Matterson, 13 Isaac Liu. Interchange: 14 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 15 Zane Tetevano, 16 Mitchell Aubusson, 17 Victor Radley. Reserves: 18 Nat Butcher, 19 Kurt Baptiste, 20 Mitchell Cornish, 21 Frank-Paul Nuuausala.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola. Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Hymel Hunt, 20 Campbell Graham, 21 Kyle Turner.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday April 12, 2018.
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney.
WHO WILL WIN?
The Roosters deserve to be favourites after their solid win over Cronulla. Souths were brave against the Dragons, but – with Cronk, Tedesco and a home ground advantage – he Roosters should win comfortably. The shock loss to the Warriors will work in the Roosters’ favour, as they’ll be on guard to ensure Souths don’t get the same jump on them.
Sydney Roosters by 12.