Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Premiers eye much-needed win against cellar dwellers
Staring down the prospect of falling out of the top four with a loss, the Sydney Roosters will be endeavouring to end a three-match losing streak with a strong showing against the last-placed Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday afternoon.
Appearing well off the pace in last Sunday's 19-10 loss on the road to Penrith, the Roosters will be looking to extend a strong record over the Bulldogs, having won ten of 13 matches during coach Trent Robinson's tenure, including the past four in a row.
Hosting the first Sunday afternoon fixture at the Sydney Cricket Ground since Greg Inglis' infamous field goal attempt three years ago, the Tricolours have enjoyed good fortune at the historic venue since taking up residence this year, winning their past three matches, including two wins by 30 points or more.
Naming Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton to return after being rested following Origin I, Victor Radley will start at hooker with Mitchell Aubusson and Sitili Tupouniua reverting to the bench.
Fresh from playing his 100th NRL game against the Panthers, Siosiua Taukeaiho will bring up a century of appearance for the Roosters after making his club debut back in 2015.
Sitting in outright last position following their tenth loss over the first 13 rounds, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be hoping to orchestrate the upset of the season against the reigning premiers.
Showing plenty of early promise against the Dragons last Monday before succumbing to a bitterly disappointing loss, 36-12, at home, the Bulldogs will play their first match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in eight years, while chasing their first win at the venue since the 1986 finals series against Balmain.
Making several changes headlined by incumbent New Zealand skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in his club debut at left centre after shifting from Penrith last week, Corey Harawira-Naera returns in place of Ofahiki Ogden on the bench.
Naming Jack Cogger at halfback despite the former Newcastle playmaker failing his HIA test following heavy contact from Tariq Sims, coach Dean Pay may be forced to shift Jeremy Marshall-King into the halves, enabling Michael Lichaa or Fa'amanu Brown the chance to earn a first grade recall.
Last meeting: Round 7 2018 - Bulldogs 0 Roosters 6
Who to watch: Making a surprise return to the NRL following a stint with Leigh in the English second-tier last season, former Junior Kangaroos playmaker Drew Hutchison will be eager to make the most of his time in the top grade. Filling the void created by Luke Keary's injury absence and gaining favour over former Knights playmaker Brock Lamb, the 24-year-old was steady against the Panthers, making 27 tackles, without getting the opportunity to showcase his attacking wares. Set to be better for the run ahead of Sunday's clash against the Bulldogs, look for the former Dragons halfback to press his case for more game time in the top grade, along with attracting suitors for his services beyond this season.
Making a shock switch to the Bulldogs after falling out of favour at Penrith, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be out to make a strong impression in his club debut on Sunday. Contracted to the Panthers until the end of next season, the 23-year-old outside back surprised many by penning an 18-month deal with the Bulldogs given his ties to Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire - the man who handed him the New Zealand captaincy for last year's tour of England. Named to start in the centres despite expressing a preference for playing at fullback, look for Watene-Zelezniak to provide the cellar dwellers with a much-needed injection of class as they fight to avoid claiming their first wooden spoon in over a decade.
The favourite: Despite losing their past three matches, the Roosters are overwhelming favourites to come away with two points on Sunday afternoon.
My tip: For as willing as the Bulldogs have shown themselves to be at times throughout the season, the disparity in comparison to the Roosters will almost certainly result in an emphatic victory for the home side. Roosters by 32.
4. Joseph Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 17. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Ryan Hall 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Cooper Cronk 13. Isaac Liu 9. Victor Radley 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 14. Nat Butcher 8. Zane Tetevano 16. Sitili Tupouniua 18. Poasa Faamausili 21. Sam Verrills
1. Nick Meaney 2. Marcelo Montoya 3. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Kieran Foran 19. Fa'amanu Brown 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Rhyse Martin 15. Danny Fualalo 17. Sauaso Sue 21. Chris Smith
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Adam Cassidy; Sideline Officials: Nick Beashel, Peter Gough; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Bryan Norrie;