Andrew Pelechaty previews the Sydney Roosters’ return to the SCG against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After narrowly beating Canberra in Magic Round, the Roosters had eight straight wins and looked invincible: the #EastsToWin hashtag living up to its name. Since then, they’ve lost to Brisbane, Newcastle and Penrith, and gained a valuable two points from the bye. Canberra (fourth), Newcastle (fifth) and Cronulla (sixth) are now one win behind the Roosters. Their slump proves defending an NRL premiership is harder than Lisa trying to solve Professor Provolone’s Picto-Puzzle. The Roosters have an impressive 3-1 record at the SCG, and haven’t played there since belting Wests 42-12 in round eight.
It’s been a tough year for Canterbury. While they’ve shown plenty of heart, they’ve lacked the execution and experience to follow through on their efforts. Their 36-12 loss to St. George-Illawarra on Queen’s Birthday Monday was their third straight defeat. With the Gold Coast and Penrith starting to pick up some wins, the 16th-placed Bulldogs are in danger of losing touch with the rest of the competition.
Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton return after missing round 13. Mitch Aubusson switches to the bench for Latrell, while Sitili Tupouniua moves to the bench for Crichton. Victor Radley plays hooker in place of Sam Verrills.
Sydney Roosters squad: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Ryan Hall 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Zane Tetevano 9. Victor Radley 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Isaac Liu 14. Nat Butcher 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Mitchell Aubusson 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Matt Ikuvalu 20. Brock Lamb 21. Sam Verrills
Former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak makes his Canterbury debut in the centres, Marcelo Montoya moves to the wing and Christian Crichton is dropped. Ofahiki Ogden moves to the reserves, with Corey Harawira-Naera taking his place on the bench.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs squad: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Marcelo Montoya 3. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Kieran Foran 7. Jack Cogger 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliott 14. Rhyse Martin 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Corey Harawira-Naera 17. Sauaso Sue 19. Fa’amanu Brown 20. Michael Lichaa 21. Chris Smith 22. Ofahiki Ogden
HEAD TO HEAD
The Roosters played Canterbury twice in 2018 (inside the first seven rounds), winning both games. They beat Canterbury 30-12 in round two at the SFS, with tries to Cooper Cronk, Blake Ferguson, Luke Keary, Ryan Matterson and James Tedesco. The return game – in round seven at Homebush – saw the Roosters grind a 6-0 win, with Latrell Mitchell scoring all six points.
Latrell Mitchell v Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Both players will be keen for strong games for different reasons. After a great start to 2019 (eight tries and 43 goals), Mitchell had a shocker in Origin I and missed the Roosters’ loss to Penrith to recover. With the Origin II teams named after this round, Mitchell needs a big performance for the Roosters to keep his Blues jersey and redeem himself in Perth.
After over 100 games with Penrith, Watene-Zelezniak was given permission to negotiate with other clubs and Canterbury quickly signed him. The New Zealand international gives Canterbury much-needed experience and his desire to impress his new club could spark an upset if the Roosters aren’t careful.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday June 16.
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground.
WHO WILL WIN?
This is a huge game for the Roosters. While Canterbury shouldn’t be taken lightly, the Roosters will see this game as a chance to solidify their top four spot. Canterbury will be competitive, but the Roosters will find a way to win.
Sydney Roosters by 12.