With both teams coming off of Round 1 losses, the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury Bulldogs will do battle at Allianz stadium to claim their first win for the 2018 season.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Roosters were out-enthused by a determined Tigers side last week as they struggled to find coherency with their new look spine. The team struggled to play to a revamped attacking game-plan based around Cronk and Tedesco. Many of Cronk’s signature Storm plays didn’t come off while Tedesco bombed a try and was well contained.
The 8-10 loss was the first time since 2011 the Roosters had lost to the Tigers and it proved that the Roosters are going to have to play the waiting game before their million dollar signings can gel and deliver the goods.
For a team beaten by 18 points, the Bulldogs were able to put together a reasonably solid performance. Moses Mbye looked fast and dangerous in his new role at fullback, Raymond Faitala-Mariner was a constant threat in the back-row and Kieran Foran did his part in helping to re-shape the Dogs attack.
They were unable to stop the might of the Melbourne Storm, going down 18-36 but there were a lot of positive signs that indicated coach Dean Pay’s promise to turn around the Dogs woes of 2017, was off to a good start.
Luke Keary returns to the side in what should be a big boost for the Roosters. His running game and attacking prowess made him one of the best performers of 2017 and he should complement Cronk well. Mitch Cornish is a talented player but as a halfback himself, his game was ill-suited to partnering Cronk and so the Roosters attack should improve from their poor showing last week.
The Bulldogs retain the same 17 that went down to the Storm.
For the Roosters they’ll need Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa to have good games in order to get the Roosters season rolling. After an incredibly lacklustre showing in the 2017 preliminary final, they pretty much picked up from where they left off against the Tigers. The likes of Russell Packer led the way for the Tigers and didn’t take a backwards step with the Roosters pack unable to get over the top of them. JWH and Napa need to start strong to get the momentum in the Roosters favour early and silence media talk over their below par performances.
With his licence to run finally being approved, Michael Lichaa shapes up as a key component of the Dogs attack. His ability to exploit tired forwards and gaps around the ruck can wreak havoc on the Roosters. The likes of Aaron Woods can provide him with quick play the balls to take advantage of and link up with his creative players in Mbye and Foran. When the momentum is in the Dogs favour, it’ll be up to Lichaa to keep them on the offensive.
The last 3 games between the Roosters and Bulldogs have been decided by a margin of 6 points or less.
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 Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11 Boyd Cordner (c), 12 Mitchell Aubusson, 13 Isaac Liu
Interchange: 14 Dylan Napa, 15 Zane Tetevano, 16 Ryan Matterson, 17 Victor Radley
Reserves: 18 Reece Robinson, 19 Mitch Cornish, 20 Nat Butcher, 21 Lindsay Collins
1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Matt Frawley, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Danny Fualalo
Interchange: 14 Adam Elliott, 15 Aiden Tolman, 16 Greg Eastwood, 17 Jeremy Marshall-King
Reserves: 19 Asipeli Fine, 20 Kerrod Holland, 21 Renouf Toomaga, 23 John Olive
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 16th March
Venue: Allianz Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?