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NRL Finals match preview: Sydney Roosters vs North Queensland Cowboys

Date: Friday 19th September, 2014
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 7:55pm

Teams

Sydney Roosters: Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Sonny Bill Williams, Aidan Guerra. Interchange: Mitchell Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Isaac Liu, Remi Casty, Kane Evans

North Queensland Cowboys: Michael Morgan, Kyle Feldt, Tautau Moga, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Robert Lui, Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, Rory Kostjasyn, Ashton Sims, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: Ray Thompson, Scott Bolton, Ethan Lowe, James Tamou

Form

Sydney Roosters

Finals Week 1- Penrith (H), L 18-19
Round 26- Souths (H), W 22-18
Round 25- Melbourne (H), W 24-12
Round 24- New Zealand (A), W 46-12
Round 23- Wests Tigers (A), W 48-4

North Queensland Cowboys

Finals Week 1- Brisbane (H), W 32-20
Round 26- Manly (H), W 30-16
Round 25- Cronulla (H) W 22-12
Round 24- Souths (A), W 22-12
Round 23- Penrith (A), L 22-23

Preview

Up until their last start the Roosters were favourites in the competition however after falling to Penrith last week the pressure is on the defending Premiers to perform this week.

They face a stiff task as they come up against the in form North Queensland Cowboys, a side that belted their Queensland counterparts Brisbane in the first week of finals. At half time the Cowboys lead the Broncos 24-nil before switching off for a large period of the second half.

Cowboys captain Jonathan Thurston was livid with the fact his side didn’t go on with the job and warned a repeat fade in concentration against the Roosters would cost the side.

For their part the Roosters were strong but wasteful against the Panthers last week, dropping plenty of ball in attacking positions. If they can improve their handling the North Queensland side will have trouble holding them out.

The Cowboys ability to travel to Sydney and come away with the win is always a concern for the side and something that will give the Sydney team a lot of confidence they can come away with the win. Having said that, the last time the North Queensland side took the trip to Sydney, they comprehensively beat competition heavy weights the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Both teams had judiciary concerns after their last round fixtures with both teams receiving polar opposite results. For the Roosters, hard man Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has not had received a suspension, while for the Cowboys Tariq Sims received five weeks for his high and late shoulder charge on Justin Hodges. The result has ended the North Queensland career of Sims who moves to the Knights next season.

The loss of Sims could prove costly to the Townsville based side, with the yardage up the middle from the big men on each side sure to prove pivotal in the game.

The major inclusion for either side is the return of hooker Jake Friend for the Roosters. The number nine is pivotal to the chances on his side in the competition. Last weekend both Manly and Roosters were missing their dummy halves while Melbourne’s hooker was injured. All three teams recorded losses and this is no coincidence.

Both club’s halfbacks have also been in wonderful form. Sydney’s Mitchell Pearce has had a roller coaster season but has peeked towards the back end just when he was needed most. Thurston as always has been the rock of his team. Known for his creativity, his defense is often overlooked but he is tireless, involved in nearly everything in both offence and defense.

A weak link in the two sides may be the defense of the Cowboy’s Robert Lui who has struggled when opposition have ran the ball his way. The Broncos exploited this last week and the Roosters will be sure to do the same.

Previous Meetings This Season

The two sides have only met once this season way back in round 10, with the points well and truly going to the North Queensland side. The Cowboys demolished the Roosters 42-10 at home.

The Roosters seemed to wake from a slumber as a result of the encounter and went on a neat four match winning streak following the rout. Nevertheless they would have been licking their wounds and will be keen to exact revenge.

The Sydney side were missing star halfback Mitchell Pearce for the encounter and will be all the better with the half back in the side.

The road trip to Townsville is never easy, and the trip from Townsville is often also fraught with danger. While the Cowboys will take confidence knowing they can dismantle the Roosters, the change in venue could prove a big difference in the game.

Prediction

Roosters by 12

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