Mitch Dransfield previews the round two Sydney Roosters clash against the Manly Sea Eagles
In round one, the reigning premiers were against a Panthers side at Penrith, itching to get a win to start their season. The Roosters were clinical and their defence stood strong against all that Penrith threw at them, leading 12-0 early. After halftime, the home side reduced their mistakes and completed well to storm home with two tries in the last quarter to win 20-14.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
A modern rivalry continued in round one, with the Sea Eagles up against the Melbourne Storm on the northern beaches. It was a hard fought battle, with both defences giving absolutely nothing to their attacks, and Manly leading 4-2 at the break. The Storm eventually found a weakness in the Manly defence, kicking for two tries late in the match, and another off broken play to win in what was a mostly close encounter 18-4.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Brett Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 14. Sam Verrills 15. Isaac Liu 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Daniel Fifita 19. Poasa Faamausili 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Asu Kepaoa
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Sean Keppie 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Haumole Olakauatu 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Brendan Elliot 20. Tevita Funa 21. Zac Saddler
These powerhouse clubs have always had tough encounters, but the back-to-back premiers have won the last three. These are usually high scoring fixtures that can either blow out after a tough portion of the game or being a grinding fight that ends in a thriller.
Manly have the wood over the Roosters in their NRL-era matches, with thirty-three played with the Sea Eagles winning eighteen. This pair of clubs are both coming off a loss in round one even with their tremendous defence; they will be looking to get on the board with their first win of 2020.
BATTLE TO WATCH
James Tedesco v Tom Trbojevic
The most hyped-up battle to come out of this match will be between the arguably the best fullbacks in the game with James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic going head-to-head. Both had an average opening round, with Tedesco having glimpses of brilliance but just unable to inject himself with the possession he had, while Trbojevic was back in his first match in over six months trying to brush off the rust against a quality Storm side.
The key battle of these premium fullbacks is nothing short of class every time they match up, with the finesse of Trbojevic being up with the best to play the game in passing and decision making.
Tedesco is, without doubt, the player of 2019 but he is prone to slow starts each year, this match he will need to inject himself through the middle to help their forwards who will be up against some of the best front row in the competition. A strong beginning to this match for either of these players will likely have the other team trailing for the majority of the game and could spell trouble as they are two of the strongest defending sides.
This is the first time these two have played at this venue against one another let alone behind closed doors. Going off the previous form in these match-ups and given circumstances this will go down to the wire, expecting a high-quality fixture with the defence giving nothing to their opponents. Roosters have a touch more composure but lacked the finesse of previous years while Manly looked staunch in defence but struggled in attack, going off the recent form line of previous outings the Roosters should scrape a win against the Sea Eagles. Roosters by 6.
Date: Saturday 21st March
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT