The first week of byes begins with a gripping encounter between Sydney Roosters and the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Roosters bounced back after their round 11 loss facing the Titans. It was the Gold Coast who lead at halftime with two tries to one at 14-6, the tricolours came out in the second half to score 22 unanswered points in 13 minutes to win without doubt 34-14.
Having only won 1 of the 5 in previous rounds the Tigers were out to play a troubled Bulldogs side desperate for a win as well. The Dogs were on top for the majority of the match leading into the half 10-4. The constant lack of variety in attacking flair from Canterbury caught up with them for the Wests side to run in two more tries and scrape a crucial win 14-10.
James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa are all on Origin duty. Blake Ferguson moves to fullback while Joey Manu shifts to the centres with Daniel Tupou returning from injury. Jared Waerea Hargreaves starts in at prop and Victor Radley in the second row, debutant Matthew Ikuvalu goes into the centres. Isaac Liu remains at lock and Frank-Paul Nuuausala is recalled on the bench.
Wests are unaffected by Origin and have only made one crucial change, with Elijah Taylor moving to hooker and Jacob Liddle out. Matt Eisenhuth starts at lock with Tim Grant on the interchange.
This clash is an anticipated fixture as the first round between the Tigers and Roosters went down to the wire. The alarming upset of the opening match going to the Wests side against one of the favourites in the tricolours was decided by 2 points. The key matchup of this showdown is Wests five-eighth Benji Marshall taking on his opposing half in Luke Keary.
Wests off the back of tremendous defence as a squad has made the side one of the best of the year which has freed up the halves of Marshall and Luke Brooks. Along with the side having a season not many expected from the Tigers it has been off the back of Benji’s commitment to the club, with the five-eighth aiding in 6 force line dropouts which will be highly needed against the Roosters. Marshall’s short kicking game at the line while his towering bombs in sticky situations if placed well could be the factor of his side coming away triumphant.
Luke Keary through 11 games this season has a total of 11 try assists, 4 tries and 200 tackles made at 81% efficiency which had the half close to origin contention this season. If the Roosters are to win understrength, Luke will need to display his running game at the line and support play to his backs to help create the points needed to break a Tigers defence which has been one of the hardest to break open.
Wests Tigers have won three of 16 matches against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium. Elijah Taylor will play his 150th NRL match.
Roosters: 1 Blake Ferguson, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Joseph Manu, 4 Mitchell Aubusson, 5 Matthew Ikuvalu, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11 Victor Radley, 12 Ryan Matterson, 13 Isaac Liu
Interchange: 15 Zane Tetevano, 16 Frank-Paul Nuuausala, 17 Kurt Baptiste, 17 Nat Butcher
Wests Tigers: 1 Tuimoala Lolohea, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Mahe Fonua, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Elijah Taylor, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence (c), 12 Michael Chee-Kam, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Josh Reynolds, 16 Josh Aloai, 17 Tim Grant
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 3rd June
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 4:10 pm
Referee: Grant Atkins
WHO WILL WIN?
The Roosters have had the wins against the Wests Tigers for many years leading into 2018, however with a new head coaching and players responding to playing gritty defensive football they were able to upset the tricolours earlier in the season. The rematch between these sides favours the Tigers with the absent players for Sydney, however, a struggling month for the joint venture has made them dipping in the resilient rugby league they displayed in the opening rounds. Roosters still have depth and high-quality players across the park which in turn will prove to be the class above Tigers at their home ground getting back-to-back wins.
Prediction: Roosters by 8