This weekend’s shortened round of matches concludes with the Roosters returning to Sydney for a proper home game, as they prepare to host the Tigers. This will be the second time that these sides will do battle for the season.
The Roosters come into this match on the back of a convincing 34-14 victory over the Titans in Gosford. Trailing 14-6 at the break and looking out of sorts, the Chooks ran riot in the second half, as they piled on 28 unanswered points en route to their victory. Many of their big guns had a field day and put a case for themselves for Origin selection.
The Tigers also came away with a win last week against the struggling Bulldogs. Their veteran co-captains, Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence, were the ones who were most influential in ensuring the Tigers got over the line in what was a rather scrappy affair. Moreover, it had an air of emotion about it due to the likes of former Tiger Aaron Woods returning as a Bulldogs player, while former Bulldog, Josh Reynolds, was lining up against his old club.
This will be the second time in which these two teams will be playing against each other, as they did battle in round 1. That game saw the Tigers cause an absolute boilover, as they stunned the highly fancied Roosters, 10-8. Former Tiger turned Rooster, James Tedesco had a match to forget, and was heckled mercilessly by the Tigers faithful, who once loved him.
2018 - Round 1 - Wests Tigers 10 def. Sydney Roosters 8 at ANZ Stadium.
2017 - Round 24 - Sydney Roosters 22 def. Wests Tigers 18 at Allianz Stadium.
2017 - Round 14 - Sydney Roosters 40 def. Wests Tigers 18 at Campbelltown Stadium.
2016 - Round 13 - Sydney Roosters 32 def. Wests Tigers 18 at Allianz Stadium.
2015 - Round 20 - Sydney Roosters 33 def. Wests Tigers 8 at ANZ Stadium.
As can be seen from the recent matches between the two, the Roosters have been the dominant team, winning four of the last five encounters. In fact, the Roosters have been the most dominant team in their overall encounters, winning 22 of the 31 matches.
However, as stated earlier, their most recent encounter produced a major surprise in that the Tigers totally surprised everyone by stunning the highly fancied Roosters in their first encounter this year. This set the path for both teams thus far: the Tigers’ improvement from last season and the Roosters’ frustratingly inconsistent season.
|Sydney Roosters||Wests Tigers|
|1||Blake Ferguson||Tuimoala Lolohea|
|2||Daniel Tupou||David Nofoaluma|
|3||Joseph Manu||Esan Marsters|
|4||Mitchell Aubusson||Mahe Fonua|
|5||Matthew Ikuvalu||Corey Thompson|
|6||Luke Keary||Benji Marshall|
|7||Cooper Cronk ||Luke Brooks|
|8||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves||Russell Packer|
|9||Jake Friend||Elijah Taylor|
|10||Siosiua Taukeiaho||Ben Matulino|
|11||Victor Radley||Chris Lawrence|
|12||Ryan Matterson||Michael Chee Kam|
|13||Isaac Liu||Matthew Eisenhuth|
|14||Zane Tetevano||Alex Twal|
|15||Frank-Paul Nuuausala||Josh Reynolds|
|16||Kurt Baptiste||Josh Aloiai|
|17||Nat Butcher||Tim Grant|
|18||Poasa Faamausili||Sauaso Sue|
|19||Lindsay Collins||Chris McQueen|
|20||Mitchell Cornish||Pita Godinet|
|21||Paul Momirovski||Kevin Naiqama|
The facts that matter
After last week’s impressive 34-14 victory over the Titans in Gosford, the Roosters improved their win-loss record to 7-5, in order to advance into 7th place. It came on the back of some highly entertaining football played by the tricolours in the second half, and it saw some of their big guns such as Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson and Cooper Cronk come out with all guns blazing after the interval. Some ABC Grandstand commentators had talked up this victory as being a potential turning point in the Chooks’ stuttering season.
For the Chooks to surge up the ladder, there are a number of facets to their game which they will need to address. Some of these include their errors and ineffective tackles. The tricolours had issues with their error count last season and it appears to have transcended into this season, given they have made the most errors of any team with 156 for the season, and the second most handling errors in the NRL with 62, behind the Storm. As for their defence, whilst they may be ranked third in that department, the Chooks have the highest number of ineffectual tackles in the NRL with 265. Moreover, whilst last week’s victory may have boosted their points differential, they are still only ranked 7th in attack, which is not a reflection of the firepower in their ranks. One attacking stat in favour of the Chooks is that they are ranked 5th in post-contact metres, behind the Panthers, Dragons, Bulldogs and Warriors.
As for their home record, the Chooks have won four games, while losing two. Both of those losses came against the Warriors and the high-flying but bitter rivals, the Rabbitohs. Their record at home against the Tigers will give them all the confidence in the world, as they have not lost to the joint venture club at home since 2009. However, this will be put to the test given they will be without four players, due to Origin duty (Dylan Napa, Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell).
The Tigers snuck into the top 8, courtesy of a narrow and unconvincing win over the struggling Bulldogs outfit. Whilst they were somewhat fortunate to get the win, given they saw fewer ball, finished with an inferior completion rate, conceded more penalties and trailed 10-4 at the interval, they also committed fewer errors, missed fewer tackles, amassed more metres and more glaringly, they destroyed the Bulldogs with offloads, making 23 to the Dogs’ 7. Moreover, their veterans, Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence, were the influential ones who steered them home.
Undoubtedly, the Tigers have improved out of sight from their most recent seasons. Their coach Ivan Cleary has been highly influential in this, as he has ingrained a competitive streak in his troops, while implementing staunch defence into the team. It has paid dividends, as they are ranked second in this department, behind the Dragons. However, although this may be the case, the Tigers have also missed the most amount of tackles, with 457. Moreover, they will need to address their ball handling, as they are ranked third in handling errors, making 51 for the season, behind the Storm and their opponents, the Roosters. Another area of concern for the Tigers is their attack, as they have scored only 188 points for the season, to be ranked fourth worst in this department, behind the struggling Eels, Bulldogs and Cowboys. Despite this, the joint venture club has the ability to keep the opposing defence guessing, having made the second most offloads in the NRL, with 151.
As has been stated, the Tigers have an unenviable overall record against the Roosters, winning only 9 of 31 matches. In fact, whilst they arrested a 10 match losing streak to the Roosters with an opening round surprise victory, they are still yet to score an away win over the Chooks since 2009. In fact, the joint venture club has only won twice at Allianz Stadium against the Roosters since their inception in 2000. They came in 2005 and 2009. However, given their opponents are weakened by the loss of key players to representative duty, the Tigers will have a full squad to choose from, and will undoubtedly fancy their chances of nabbing some crucial competition points.
Undoubtedly, the Roosters will be eager to atone for their opening first round shock loss to the Tigers, with a victory in this match. James Tedesco would have been eager to exact revenge on his former team, however Origin duty has prevented this from happening. Whilst Tedesco won’t take the field for this match, his teammates who will be playing can help the Chooks atone for their previous loss to the Tigers. One thing in their favour is their impressive record against the joint venture club. Though the Roosters are missing some players due to Origin, they still have halves Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary (who missed their opening round loss to the Tigers) within their ranks. Moreover, they will welcome back winger Daniel Tupou from a pectoral injury.
For the Tigers, they will be eager to do the double on the Roosters, with victory in this game. Given they have a full squad to choose from, while their opponents will be weakened by the loss of four of their best players to representative duties, they will fancy their chances of a win. However, some factors which are against the Tigers is that their record against the Roosters is rather appalling, coupled by the fact that they have only won twice against the Chooks at Allianz Stadium since 2000, as well not having won at the venue since 2009.
Another factor of motivation for both sides in this match is the fact that the winner will not only consolidate their spot in the top eight, but will remain on equal competition points to the Storm and Broncos, both of whom have the bye this weekend. For the loser, it is almost a certainty that they will drop out of the top eight after this weekend. This will be enough for both teams to ruffle each other’s feathers. Although the Tigers have an abysmal record against the Roosters, they have a full squad to choose from, compared to the Chooks who are missing some stars to Origin duty. As such, I personally think this should be enough to get the Tigers over the line and find themselves in the top eight, at the Roosters’ expense. Tigers by 2.
Will the Roosters be able to handle their Origin casualties and bank a home win, or will the Tigers prove too strong? Let us know in the comments below.