Roosters v Raiders preview

LUNRL
Embed from Getty Images
Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders Friday 7:50pm at Sydney Cricket Ground

2019 grand finalists fight to keep 2020 dream alive

Twelve months after facing off in the premiership decider, the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders will resume their rivalry in the first semi final at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Gaining a second chance in the play-offs after finishing the regular season in fourth position, the Sydney Roosters will be determined to improve after being narrowly pipped by the Panthers 29-28 last Friday.

Establishing an early 10-0 lead, trailing by 18 midway through the second half before ultimately being denied by a field goal, coach Trent Robinson will be looking for greater consistency on Friday evening in order to avoid becoming the first Roosters' side in 12 years to bow out of the finals in back-to-back weeks.

Coming off a loss in the first week of the finals for the third time during Robinson's reign, the Roosters have form in bouncing back the following week with victories over the Cowboys (2014) and Bulldogs (2015).

Set to face the Raiders in finals football for the sixth time, the Roosters hold a historical dominance with four wins from their previous five meetings.

Regaining the services of co-captain Jake Friend (concussion) and impact forward Sonny Bill Williams (neck), Angus Crichton will start ahead of Sitili Tupouniua in the second row, while Nat Butcher drops back to the extended squad.

After missing last week through injury, veteran Sonny Bill Williams is set to make his 50th appearance for the Roosters.

Overcoming a slow start to power home 32-20 over the Sharks last Saturday, the Canberra Raiders will be raring to avenge the heartbreak of last year's grand final loss.

Starting last week well off the pace before surging to victory with five straight tries, coach Ricky Stuart will be buoyed by his side's performance at the Sydney Cricket Ground back in Round 10 where a man of the match performance from Josh Papalii saw the Raiders prevail.

Falling short against the Roosters during the Round 17 return bout, the Raiders will be hoping to achieve history as the first fifth-placed team to win a semi final since the current finals system was adopted eight years ago.

Retaining an unchanged line-up for the do-or-die clash, the Raiders will field 11 members of the team beaten in last year's decider.

Developing into one of the club's most consistent performers over the past five seasons, Joseph Tapine will play his 100th game for the Raiders on Friday evening.

Last meeting: Round 17 2020 - Raiders 6 Roosters 18

Who to watch: Beginning the year at Cronulla before shifting to the Eastern Suburbs to reunite with his twin brother, Josh Morris will be determined to realise his life-long ambition of winning a premiership. Enjoying a strong year at left centre with 11 tries, 13 line breaks and 50 tackle breaks, the 34-year-old speedster also celebrated his 300th NRL appearance with a win over the Raiders when the two teams clashed a month ago. Scoring a double in last week's loss to Penrith, Morris can become the 14th man in premiership history to score 150 tries in first grade with a four-pointer on Friday evening.

Becoming a mainstay of the Raiders' pack since making the journey down under in 2016, second rower Elliott Whitehead has consistently proven to be one of the club's most valuable players. Playing 121 out of a possible 123 matches over the past five seasons, the 31-year-old English international has provided tremendous service on the left edge with 31 tackles and 75 metres each week. Possessing the versatility to shift to the centres and fill in the halves when called upon, look for Whitehead to stand up and cause the Roosters plenty of problems with and without the ball.

The favourite: Having won four out of five meetings against the Raiders since the start of last season, the Roosters are expected to bounce back on their home turf.

My tip: As one of only two teams to defeat the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2020, the Raiders will fancy their chances of sending the reigning premiers out in straight sets. Raiders by 8.


1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 16. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Isaac Liu 12. Angus Crichton 15. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Sonny Bill Williams 18. Nat Butcher

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Semi Valemi 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jordan Rapana 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali'i 14. Siliva Havili 16. Hudson Young 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 9. Tom Starling 10. Iosia Soliola 15. Dunamis Lui 17. Corey Harawira-Naera


Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Chris Butler, Chris Sutton; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;



Follow all the action LIVE in our Match Centre