Updated lineups for Saturday's #PacificTest double header.
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26 hours ago
Undermanned Roosters aim for consistency and revenge as Tigers look to consolidate Top Eight spot.
Trent Robinson's Roosters gave us yet another glimpse last weekend as to why they were installed as pre-season premiership favourites. 28-unanswered points in the second half saw the Tricolours skip away to a 34-14 win over the Titans. The challenge, however, is to back up that performance this weekend. Recently the Roosters dismantled the Warriors 32-0, only to fall to the Broncos 28-22 the following week. Unless they can perform on a consistent basis the Roosters will be of little threat to this year's competition. They face an even greater challenge this week as they look to overcome the loss of several State of Origin stars. James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa will all be missing on Sunday afternoon. As a result, Blake Ferguson moves to fullback and Joey Manu shifts to the centres with Daniel Tupou and debutant Matthew Ikuvalu filling the vacant positions on the wing. Jared Waerea Hargreaves starts at prop while Victor Radley moves to the second row alongside the returning Ryan Matterson, with Isaac Liu at lock and Frank-Paul Nuuausala recalled on the bench. Fortunately, halves pairing Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk will be available and will provide the Roosters with much-needed stability in attack.
The Tigers, however, have no such problems with none of their players warranting State of Origin selection. Therefore, there are few excuses for Ivan Cleary's men as they look to claim their second win over the Roosters this year after toppling the Tricolours 10-8 in Round 1 earlier this year. Wests' defensive resilience has not changed since that victory. However, similarly, their woes in attack have not either. While the Tigers are currently the second-best defensive team in the competition, they rank 13th in attack and will need to take their chances on Sunday against a Roosters side with the third-best defence in the league. The Roosters have also dominated recent meetings between these two teams, having won 10 of their past 11 clashes with the Tigers (they scored over 30 points in 9 of those 10 wins). The Tigers may be favourites for the win on Sunday afternoon yet they will still need to do a lot right to claim the two points.
Last meeting: Round 1 2018 - Wests Tigers 10 Roosters 8
The Tigers stunned the Roosters 10-8 in their Round 1 clash earlier this year.
Who to watch: The battle of the halfbacks will go a long way to deciding this one.
Cooper Cronk may have nine try-assists to his name, however, he is a shadow of the former player he was at the Storm and has struggled to assert his dominance at his new club. With several players missing from Origin duty, the responsibility will fall on Cronk's shoulders to guide the Roosters to victory.
Meanwhile, Tigers halfback Luke Brooks has been in career-best form this year and, unlike Cronk, has benefited from a dangerous running game. Brooks may possess the long-range kicking game to direct his team around the park, but it is his speed and confidence that will be the most threatening to the Roosters on Sunday afternoon.
The favourite: The Tigers are expected to account for the Origin-impacted Roosters.
My tip: While the Tricolours may be missing some key players, they still have a classy set of halves who should be pose a greater attacking threat than the Bulldogs did last week. Roosters by 10.
1. Blake Ferguson 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph Manu 4. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Victor Radley 17. Nat Butcher 13. Isaac Liu 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Frank Paul Nuuausala 16. Kurt Baptiste 19. Lindsay Collins
1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Corey Thompson 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Elijah Taylor 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Michael Chee Kam 17. Tim Grant 14. Alex Twal 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Josh Aloiai 13. Matt Eisenhuth
Referees: Grant Atkins, Phil Henderson; Sideline Officials: Kasey Badger, Nick Morel; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Luke Patten;