Sydney Roosters vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs: Lineups, preview & prediction

Allianz Stadium, Friday 16th March, 8pm AEDT.

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Overview

The first Friday night fixture of round 2 will feature one side who failed to fire in attack despite the attacking arsenal within the squad, up against a side who, despite the final scoreline, performed rather admirably against the defending premiers. 

The Roosters suffered an incredible opening round surprise loss to the Wests Tigers, who were many tipsters’ prediction to finish the season with the wooden spoon. Conversely, the Roosters were most tipsters’ tip to finish with the premiership, and given the pre-season acquisitions, it’s easy to see the reasoning behind said belief. With that said, almost everyone expected the Roosters to walk in and out with the two competition points. Instead, their attack had completely misfired, with the forwards failing to lay the foundation, and former Tiger James Tedesco butchering numerous try-scoring opportunities, en route to a 10-8 loss. 

For the Bulldogs, they took their home game against the Storm out west to Perth’s new stadium. Given the Storm had some notable absentees from their premiership-winning roster, a few tipsters either predicted them to give the defending premiers a scare, or even topple them. The Dogs may have fallen short, but the final 36-18 scoreline was not an accurate reflection of how the match was played. In fact, the Doggies gave the Storm a decent run for their money, but it was the quality of the Storm that would eventually prevail. Despite the loss, new coach Dean Pay was full of praise for his troops.

As such, the Roosters will have been stinging from their surprise opening round loss and will undoubtedly be glad to be playing at home in front of their supporters. For the Dogs, they will be buoyed by their encouraging opening round performance and will be eager to consolidate on that with victory over a team, who they have previously had a rivalry with.

Recent meetings 

2017 – Rd 11 – Sydney Roosters 24 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 at ANZ Stadium. 

2017 – Rd 2 – Sydney Roosters 28 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 at Allianz Stadium.

2016 – Rd 17 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 def. Sydney Roosters 20 at Allianz Stadium.

2016 – Rd 11 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 32 def. Sydney Roosters 20 at ANZ Stadium.

2015 – Semifinal 1 – Sydney Roosters 38 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 at Allianz Stadium.

As can be seen above, the Roosters have won 3 out of the previous 5 encounters, most of which have been relatively close. In fact, of the 11 matches which have been played since Trent Robinson took charge of the Roosters, the Roosters have emerged triumphant on 8 of these occasions. Two of the three losses by the Roosters to the Bulldogs since 2013 have been in 2016, the only season in which they failed to make the finals during Robbo’s tenure. 

In terms of overall head-to-head, 171 matches have been played between the two sides, the Roosters have won 86 of these matches, while the Bulldogs have triumphed in 80 of these matches, with 5 draws between the teams. 

Selected teams

Sydney Roosters Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
1 James Tedesco Moses Mbye
2 Daniel Tupou Brett Morris
3 Latrell Mitchell Josh Morris
4 Joseph Manu Will Hopoate
5 Blake Ferguson Marcelo Montoya
6 Luke Keary Matthew Frawley
7 Cooper Cronk Kieran Foran
8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Aaron Woods
9 Jake Friend Michael Lichaa
10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho David Klemmer
11 Boyd Cordner Josh Jackson
12 Mitchell Aubusson Raymond Faitala-Mariner
13 Isaac Liu Danny Fualalo
Interchange
14 Dylan Napa Adam Elliott
15 Zane Tetevano Aiden Tolman
16 Ryan Matterson Jeremy Marshall-King
17 Victor Radley Asipeli Fine
Reserves
18 Reece Robinson Kerrod Holland
19 Nat Butcher Renouf Toomaga

The facts that matter 

Roosters 

Statistically, the tricolours were one of the worst culprits in terms of ball security, and in their last match, they made 13 errors to the Tigers’ 7. In addition, they completed 68% of their sets and conceded 9 penalties, compared to the Tigers’ 6. Moreover, the most damning statistic for the Chooks, which proved crucial in their loss to the Tigers, was that they only made 1436 metres, from the 172 runs during the match. They were completely dominated by their opponents, who made 181 runs for 1608 metres. 

Whilst there is nothing much wrong with their defence, it is their attack which is of major concern, having been outpointed by their less-fancied opponents. Moreover, their neww combinations are yet to click, and although it is still very early in the season, they won’t want to wait too much longer, otherwise the pressure will inevitably mount on the tricolours. 

The Chooks will welcome back five-eighth Luke Keary from injury. Keary was a key player in the Chooks’ surge into last year’s finals, and his absence from last week was undoubtedly felt by the team. 

Bulldogs 

Although the Doggies were the bottom ranked team with regards to attack, their performance against the premiers last week would suggest otherwise. They made 3 line breaks (with the Storm making only 1 more), and made 11 offloads (the Storm made only 2 more offloads). In defence, the Dogs missed fewer tackles than the Storm, and conceded only 4 penalties to the Storm’s 9. Despite making 1 more error than their opponents, this statistic can be attributed to them throwing everything at the premiers. 

As such, the Doggies were gallant in defeat to the Storm. However, what was crucial was their completion rate of only 68% of their sets, to the Storm’s 72%. Moreover, their weaknesses in attack were exposed by their inability to capitalise on their opportunities, and against quality teams such as the Storm, and their opponents this week, the Roosters, that can be very costly. 

Therefore, the aforementioned issue will have been addressed by coach Dean Pay. The Doggies are on the right track to put their attacking issues to bed, having put Moses Mbye at fullback, where he has played at his best.

Prediction

As such, with both teams losing their first round matches, there will be a feeling of desperation about this match, in terms of snaring a first victory for 2018. Unless a draw eventuates from this match, there is quite a likelihood that one team will emerge victorious. It just depends on whether one team has their high profile combinations begin to click, or whether the other team consolidates on their Dogs of War mentality of yesteryear. 

As impressive as the Doggies were against the Storm and how desperate they will be to upstage a rival of yesteryear, it’s difficult to envision the big-spending Roosters suffering two consecutive losses. Trent Robinson will have addressed the issue of need for the forwards to make more metres, as well as the combination of James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk to properly click. With the addition of Keary to add another dimension to their attack, I’m tipping the Chooks to snare their first victory, and make the Dogs wait at least another week for theirs. Roosters by 10.

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