The Sydney Roosters travel up the M1 to take on the Newcastle Knights at McDonalds Jones Stadium in Newcastle, with both sides battling for a spot at the bottom of the eight this promises to be a enthralling battle.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After suffering through four straight defeats the Knights halted the streak with a convincing win over the struggling Parramatta Eels, Knights’ fans were becoming very frustrated with their side after a promising start to the season the side had started to fall back into some bad habits which had served them three wooden spoons. The dominant manner of victory would have put the fans’ minds at ease especially their defensive effort which has been the Knights’ biggest concern.
The Roosters’ form has been patchy all season with coach Trent Robinson claiming his side is only playing to ’30 or 40% of their potential’ despite this they’ve managed to record eight victories on the back of their rock solid defence. This was true again on the weekend as they held on for a narrow victory against the Tigers, without playing with any cohesion in attack they were able to produce just enough points and defend their own line to hold off the fast finishing Tigers.
Newcastle welcome back big man Herman Ese’ese from his one match suspension just in time to face the Roosters’ pack who steam rolled the Knights in Round 3, he replaces Jacob Lillyman in the front row who has been named in the reserves. Brock Lamb was also named in reserves just over two weeks after fracturing his cheekbone, Lamb is expected to return via the ISP Super Premiership.
The Roosters have named all four of their State of Origin players in their starting side but will assess each player after Wednesday nights’ game to see if they’re fit enough to back up on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Matterson is still out after suffering a concussion against the Broncos three weeks ago, Mitchell Aubusson moves to the bench after spending most of the season in the centres.
After the much hyped Round 3 encounter between these sides which marked the return of Mitchell Pearce to face his old club the second meeting has attracted far less attention, Pearce is still injured for Newcastle and with State of Origin taking most of the attention the build hasn’t quite been the same.
But this game is still as important as the first because there are two competition points up for grabs and with both sides in the battle for a Top 8 spot this is virtually a ‘four point game’. Victory for Newcastle will bring them within two points of the Roosters who occupy 6th position, whilst a loss will send them six points adrift.
The Roosters steam rolled the Knights through the middle in Round 3 which laid the foundation for the big win, with their forwards making plenty of metres it gave their outside men like Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell plenty of space and opportunities as both players ran riot. Newcastle’s biggest problem all year has been their middle defence and they’ll know that’s where the Roosters will target them again.
Whilst Newcastle’s defence has been poor their attack has still been able to put up points despite the loss of Pearce, but they’ll have to work extra hard for them this week against one of the best defences in the competition. Whilst the Roosters’ attack has failed to reach the heights expected prior to the season their defence has been amongst the best in the game and has delivered them some close wins.
Although the game will likely be decided in the forwards the match up of the opposing fullbacks will be the highlight of the match for most viewers, NSW fullback James Tedesco will need to get through Wednesday nights’ game unscathed to take his place for the Tri Colours and face up to the Knights’ Wiz Kid Kayln Ponga. Although they’re very different players they both bring plenty of excitement to the game and will likely feature on the match highlight reels.
Newcastle are the worse defensive side in the competition leaking an average of 26.6 points per game, whilst the Roosters concede just over 15 points per game.
Knights: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Connor Watson, 7 Jack Cogger, 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Slade Griffin, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Mitchell Barnett, 13 Aidan Guerra (c), 14 Danny Levi, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Jamie Buhrer (c), 17 Josh King, 18 Jacob Lillyman, 19 Luke Yates, 20 Nicholas Meaney, 21 Brock Lamb
Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Joseph Manu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 13 Isaac Liu, 14 Zane Tetevano, 15 Kurt Baptiste, 16 Mitchell Aubusson, 17 Victor Radley, 18 Nat Butcher, 19 Lindsay Collins, 20 Frank-Paul Nuuausala, 21 Paul Momirovski, 22 Billy Smith, 24 Mitchell Cornish
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 9th of June
Venue: McDonalds Jones Stadium, Newcastle
WHO WILL WIN?
On paper the Roosters are clearly the better side looking at stats, experience and ladder position so unsurprisingly they head into this game as firm favourites. Newcastle will know they will need a special performance to upset the Boys from Bondi but will like their chances at home and with the Roosters potentially having a few players backing up from Origin. I still expect the Roosters to win 1-12.