MAGIC ROUND: Sydney v North Qld preview

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Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys Saturday 7:45pm at Suncorp Stadium

An injury depleted Sydney Roosters take on the North Queensland on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.

It's not the most exciting fixture to be played on Saturday night in the second instalment of Magic Round, although injuries to the Roosters' side give the North Queensland Cowboys a glimmer of hope. Drew Hutchinson will miss the next two months of footy after suffering a punctured lung on Friday night. Luckily for the Roosters, Lachlan Lam will return from injury this weekend after having not played since their round three loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Another potential omission could be Victor Radley who played only nine minutes of Saturday night after being taken off with concussion. Radley has been named to start at Lock but as we've seen numerous times this season, he could fail concussion tests later on in the week. Despite struggling with injuries throughout this season, the Roosters once again showed grit and determination in their 13-point loss to Parramatta. The Roosters only had 36 per cent of the ball but managed to stay in the concept until Mitchell Moses' field goal in the 73rd minute. Parramatta completely dominated the Roosters, but they struggled to break down the Roosters defence. It's a credit to the Roosters for staying in the contest for that long despite making 180 more tackles than their opponents.

After their performance last weekend and throughout the season, the Roosters should be confident heading into their clash on Saturday night as all three of their losses have come against sides situated above them on the ladder. All six of their wins have been convincing results against sides lower than them on the ladder and they should expect no different this weekend. The Roosters will be glad to see Sitili Tupouniua returning from suspension which pushes Nat Butcher to the interchange after completing a monster 70 tackles on the weekends. As a result Tuku Hau Tapuha has dropped out of the 17.

The North Queensland Cowboys have catapulted into 11th position thanks to four wins from their previous five matches after sitting winless after four weeks. Their most recent victory came on Saturday night against rivals the Brisbane Broncos in a one-point thriller. A 77th minute Valentine Holmes field goal was all that could separate the two sides and it was the first win for the North Queenslanders against Brisbane since 2018. However, this Saturday's fixture will be a tough task for the Cowboys as they play their first top eight side of the season. Although the Cowboys have been in good form recently, they haven't blown any of the struggling sides out of the water and have only won their last two games by a combined three points. Defence is a key issue for the Cowboys, having conceded 255 points so far this season, the third most in the league. The Roosters are going to try and expose the Cowboys weakness in defence and they're one of the better attacking sides in the competition having scored 254 points, fourth most in the league.

The Cowboys have named an unchanged line up from their victory on the weekend and they'll need another good performance if they're to come away with the two points on Saturday night.

Last meeting: Round 9 2020 - Cowboys 16 Roosters 42

Who to watch: The battle of the two fullbacks is an intriguing one for Saturday night's clash. New South Wales' James Tedesco will line up against Queenslander Valentine Holmes. Tedesco started the year off in immense fashion, accumulating over 200 run metres in three of his opening five matches but his form has fallen away with the Roosters injury crisis and has failed to hit 100 run metres in his last three outings. Meanwhile Holmes' form has followed the opposite path. Starting the season on the Wing, Holmes found himself back at fullback just three games into the season and has accumulated over 150 run metres in six of his seven outings at the back. Holmes is slowly showing signs of his past self with his immense tackle breaking ability, breaking 4.2 tackles per game. It should be a great battle between the two number one's with Origin selection just around the corner.

The favourite: The Sydney Roosters are the favourites to win the Saturday night's clash and for good reason. They're still one of the better sides in the competition and despite the Cowboys recent form, they've got a long way to go until they compete with sides like the Roosters. Although they have won two of the past four outings against the Sydney Roosters.

My tip: The Roosters are hard to go past on the weekend and the inclusion of Lam and Tupouniua will help a tired Roosters side after a gruelling effort last weekend. They'll be keen to respond after last week's loss and they've successfully dismantled every bottom eight side they've played this season. Sydney by 16.

1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Lachlan Lam 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Ben Marschke 10. Isaac Liu 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Adam Keighran 15. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 16. Nat Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho 21. Joseph Suaalii

1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Coen Hess 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Shane Wright 12. Mitchell Dunn 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Lachlan Burr 16. Francis Molo 20. Tom Gilbert 17. Ben Condon

Referees: Ben Cummins; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, David Munro; Video Referees: Henry Perenara;

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