The Warriors bounced back from an Anzac Day massacre at the hands of the Melbourne Storm with a good win on home soil against the Wests Tigers last week and they’ll be aiming to back that up when they host the under-performing Roosters this Saturday evening.
New Zealand’s 22-point win over the Tigers, among the best defensive outfits in the league, put the Kiwi side back into second place on the ladder while the Roosters, amongst the pre-season favourites for a title tilt, are languishing in sixth place and desperately seeking any form of consistency week-to-week.
The Roosters also lost on Anzac Day, succumbing to a red-hot St George Illawarra Dragons outfit and hit back with a close-fought win against the struggling Sea Eagles last time out.
Both sides have blown pre-season expectations out the window for very different reasons and their week 10 meeting gives them the opportunity to plant a stake in the ground and push ahead, either securing a spot in the top two and continuing to defy critics or claw back up to meet the lofty pre-season hype.
2018 – New Zealand Warriors 30 def. Sydney Roosters 6 at Allianz Stadium
2017 – New Zealand Warriors 14 def. Sydney Roosters 13 at Mt Smart Stadium
2016 – New Zealand Warriors 12 def. Sydney Roosters 10 at Mt Smart Stadium
2016 – New Zealand Warriors 32 def. Sydney Roosters 28 at Central Coast Stadium
2015 – Sydney Roosters 24 def. New Zealand Warriors 0 at Allianz Stadium
While these two sides have played some absolute brilliant contests together over the years, the recent edge is very much with the Warriors who have won their last four clashes with the Roosters, including a handy 30-6 hammering of the Chooks at Allianz Stadium earlier this season.
Perhaps most famous for their stoush in the 2002 NRL Grand Final, the two sides have had plenty of feeling and emotion between them since the moment big Richard Villasanti belted Freddy Fittler into another dimension and motivated the Roosters on to a memorable triumph.
|New Zealand Warriors||Sydney Roosters|
|1||Roger Tuivasa-Sheck||James Tedesco|
|2||David Fusitu'a||Joseph Manu|
|3||Peta Hiku||Latrell Mitchell|
|4||Solomone Kata||Mitchell Aubusson|
|5||Ken Maumalo||Blake Ferguson|
|6||Blake Green||Luke Keary|
|7||Mason Lino||Cooper Cronk|
|8||Bunty Afoa||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|9||Isaac Luke||Jake Friend|
|10||Agnatius Paasi||Dylan Napa|
|11||Simon Mannering||Boyd Cordner|
|12||Tohu Harris||Ryan Matterson|
|13||Adam Blair||Isaac Liu|
|14||Karl Lawton||Jared Warea-Hargreaves|
|15||Sam Lisone||Zane Tetevano|
|16||Isaiah Papali'i||Kurt Baptiste|
|17||James Gavet||Victor Radley|
|18||Sam Cook||Nat Butcher|
|20/19||Jazz Tevaga||Sitili Tupouniua|
|21/20||Albert Vete||Frank-Paul Nuuausala|
|22/21||Anthony Gelling||Mitchell Cornish|
The facts that matter
New Zealand Warriors
Do we rule out Warriors players for injury or do we just expect them to defy logic and medical science an play through the pain? That kind of feels like a legitimate question after Isaac Luke was originally ruled out for a month with a knee injury but somehow managed to front up and play against the Tigers. This week might be a different story though, with Luke suffering a shoulder complaint and Shaun Johnson going down with an ankle injury.
Luke has been named again, but it believed he’s unlikely to play while Johnson has been replaced in the halves by Mason Lino. The only other change sees Simon Mannering back into the starting side at the expense of Isaiah Papali'i who drops back to the bench to make way for the workhouse back-rower.
The Warriors will also enter this clash with plenty of confidence behind them after an impressive start to the 2018 season and an earlier trouncing of the Roosters at Allianz Stadium. The Warriors blew the doors off the Chooks on the road and will fancy a similar result back at home this weekend.
Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also comes up against his former employers once again and he's been in fine form when on display against the Roosters ever since leaving the club and ditching the tri-colours for a Warriors kit.
Somewhat unsung in the grand scheme of things, the Warriors forward pack has been immense during the first third of the campaign and have laid a brilliant platform down each and every week. They'll fancy coming up against a Roosters outfit that has been accused of being a little soft in the middle.
I don't know if the experts thought they'd be unbeaten and on top of the competition at this stage of the year, but I'm confident they expected a better showing through the first nine weeks of footy than what we've seen from the Roosters to date.
They managed just their fifth win of the season last weekend, but a scrappy win at home against Manly, possibly the worst side in the competition right now, means very little beyond the two points banked.
Trent Robinson could slowly find himself sitting on a hot seat if things continue in the same inconsistent fashion. Cooper Cronk has failed to fire and whether that's his lack of ability to adapt to Robinson's style or the veteran halfback being past his best is open for interpretation right now.
While they were expected to be front-runners, the Roosters are a long way behind the pace-setting Dragons.
The Roosters did name an unchanged squad on Tuesday night but with Victor Radley unsuccessful in having a grade two careless high tackle charge downgraded that same night, he'll drop away from the bench and be replaced most likely by Nat Butcher.
If you're reading this part, you must be familiar with just how well my tips have gone so far this year. With that in mind, I cannot go past the Warriors on home soil against the Roosters.
The Chooks have been far too inconsistent for my liking and they don't look capable of stringing together the complete 80-minute performance it will take to beat the Kiwi side at Mt Smart Stadium.
They choked hard on the big stage against Melbourne on Anzac Day, but that aside, there's little evidence they can't beat the Roosters on Saturday evening.
Will the Warriors maintain their winning ways or will it be the Roosters who are crowing this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.