Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Brendan Elliot, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Nene Macdonald, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce (vc), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (vc), Jake Friend (vc), Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Sonny Bill Williams, Aidan Guerra. Interchange: Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Remi Casty, Heath L’Estrange
Panthers: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Kevin Naiqama, Matt Moylan, Jamie Soward, Sam McKendry, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Elijah Taylor, Adam Docker. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Jeremy Latimore, Nigel Plum, Bryce Cartwright, Isaah Yeo
ANOTHER HALVES COMBINATION… MATTY M AND SOWIE
What a victory on Monday night! But it came with a double blow. The biggest concern being Tyrone Peachey with his season ending after tearing his pectoral muscle. It’s such a shame because Peachey’s impact on the side this year was on the way up. The other concern being Josh Mansour. Sauce was on crutches watching from the sidelines during the second half as the boys went on to take the two points. There will be debate among fans whether Sauce should be rested considering the run home. With Peter Wallace, Isaac John and now Peachey unavailable, Ivan Cleary has selected Matt Moylan to play next to Jamie Soward. Moylan and Soward combined for one of the season’s best tries when Kevin Naiqama scored in the corner. This combination can work. Kudos to Ivan Cleary for putting confidence in Moylan at five-eighth, and to promote Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at fullback. Isaah Yeo the eighteenth man to cover for Sauce.
PANTHERS INJURY UPDATE (via penrithpanthers.com.au)
TYRONE PEACHEY: Suffered a pec tear and will need surgery that carries a four month recovery. He is out for the season.
JOSH MANSOUR: Suffered an ankle injury. Awaiting scan results to determine the severity
PETE WALLACE: Medial ligament tear in his knee. Will be out for another 5 weeks
DAVE SIMMONS: Tore the medial ligament in his knee and will be out for another week or two.
ISAAC JOHN: Ruptured his achilles in round 9. Out for the season.
GEORGE JENNINGS: He dislocated his elbow in our Auckland Nines quarter final and underwent surgery to repair the damage. Out for the season
And from the editor
MICHAEL GREGSON: He broke his ankle in the half time entertainment. He is out for the season.
ROOSTERS WITHOUT TUPOU
The Sydney Roosters were humiliated two weeks back when they were beaten by Cronulla Sharks after leading by twenty-four points to zip on the half-hour mark. The wheels fell off when just before the break when Wade Graham cheekily called for a pass close to the Roosters line and ended up scoring an intercept try. So they’ll be keen to make amends for that shock loss with a big performance against the Panthers. Origin players Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner are back. Not so lucky coming out of Origin is Daniel Tupou with a back problem that will see him miss six weeks. They’re already missing ex-Panther Michael Jennings. Have the Roosters got the attacking power to beat the Panthers?
SYDNEY ROOSTERS HAVE THE EDGE HEAD TO HEAD
It’s the eighty-ninth occasion these two sides have met with Sydney Roosters winning on fifty-four occasions, Penrith thirty-two and two draws. At Allianz Stadium (since 1988), seventeen games have been played with the Roosters leading the count ten wins to seven. Penrith’s last win at Allianz was in 2012 when they won 18-0 with Michael Jennings scoring a double. Last year the Roosters won both matches. Penrith weren’t in the contest as the Roosters won 30-6 on May 5. And it wasn’t any closer on August 2 when the score ended up 42-6 to the Chooks.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN
Sydney Roosters have a point to prove after their loss to Cronulla Sharks. With the depth out wide a little low, they may try and take Penrith up through the middle of the field. Nene Macdonald and Brendan Elliot don’t quite strike the fear into opposition teams so you would expect Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Anthony Minichiello to take a bulk of the responsibility in scoring the points. That’s provided that the Roosters have space to get the ball out wide through their halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will be the main danger up front as he goes head to head with Brent Kite and Sam McKendry. Jake Friend has come along quite nicely in the last few seasons and will face James Segeyaro in a interesting battle. The back row of Guerra, Williams and Cordner will ensure Penrith don’t get any respite. And a good bench including Nuuausala, Napa and Frenchman Casty says to me that the Roosters are clearly looking to bash the Panthers forwards around. Will the Panthers forwards stand their ground?
Penrith’s game plan will be to run around this big Roosters forward pack and make them tired. Matt Moylan being closer to the ball playing at five-eighth will test the Roosters big men. The danger being he can either create something with either good positioning in the back line as part of a movement, or slice through the defense with his step. Expect Jamie Soward to kick deep and into the corners so the Roosters have to turn around and work it out from their own line. Just think of how many games Soward has won for us and how many his predecessor would have? I reckon he’s won us around half our games with his good football brain, experience and skills set. Kevin Naiqama surprised me last week with his double, but it was his finishing that made his effort so impressive. I said above whether the Panthers forwards could stand their ground against the Roosters star pack? Nothing makes me think they can’t. Brent Kite and Elijah Taylor were specifically bought to the club for experience, their hard working efforts during the game and for having a level-headed approach on this forward pack. Sam McKendry had an excellent game last week but will need to bring that same game for this match. It could easily come down to two bench players, Jeremy Latimore and Bryce Cartwright who have the ability to create the off-load. Towards the end of the game with the Roosters tiring these two players could put away the speedsters into open space. That could end up being the difference between the two teams.
IT MAY NOT BE AS CLEAR CUT
So called ‘rugby league experts’ will tip the Roosters to win over the Panthers by a long way. I’m not so sure. Teams having fourteen day breaks should be fresh, but can often be without match practice. As for Penrith’s five day turnaround, that can also have it’s disadvantages. Lack of recovery time comes to mind. But sometimes it can just be adrenalin that kicks in to fight through any barriers that may be in their way. If Penrith can get out to a good lead, they should go on and defy the odd in picking up the two competition points. That’s as long as they don’t try to protect their advantage.