The preview has been updated with a rumoured change in the halves at the Chooks this week, pending official confirmation.
This is going to be fun: Doggies fans holding up signs with jokes about dogs to try and throw the Roosters’ halfback off in his first Sydney away game since his Australia Day antics made worldwide headlines. You can’t blame Dogs fans for going down that route, as we’d do the exact same thing if given the opportunity.
But there’s a history of Bulldogs fans targeting their booing and hatred towards specific Roosters players. And each time, it’s backfired.
They booed Willie Mason relentlessly in 2008 when he made the pre-season defection to the Roosters:
He scored two tries and the Roosters won 40-12.
In 2013, they held up signs saying, among other things “we havn’t forgotten” (sic) when Sonny Bill Williams played them for the first time since his famous walk-out:
He scored two tries as well in another Roosters rout, including this try which ended with a dap:
You may now be asking yourself this: what price is it for Mitchell Pearce to score two tries on Sunday afternoon? And this is why I’m here: Sportsbet currently has it at a tasty $34.
But remember: gamble responsibly.
So it’s back to the drawing board. Again. The good news to come out of the Titans debacle was the return of Siosiua Taukeiaho, who looked comfortable and had 10 runs for 88 metres in just 34 minutes of action. Also good news is the improving form of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who had eight runs for 65 metres and a couple of offloads, including one that led to the Roosters’ lone try in the Bloodbath at CBUS.
Though there’s a bit of late mail, according to sources: Jackson Hastings has reportedly been dropped in favour of Ryan Matterson at five-eighth, with Connor Watson snagging the utility role off the bench. Watch the Roosters’ Twitter, Facebook and website an hour before kick-off for official confirmation.
1 Latrell Mitchell, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Mitchell Aubusson, 4 Blake Ferguson, 5 Joe Burgess, 6 Jackson Hastings, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Sam Moa, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Aidan Guerra, 13 Isaac Liu. Interchange: 14 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 15 Kane Evans, 16 Ryan Matterson, 17 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 18 Connor Watson
In further good news for the Roosters, the Bulldogs won last round, meaning they are a certainty to lose this round. Right? It’s also a Sunday game, meaning Mormon devotee Will Hopoate won’t play, just as he didn’t last week.
1 Sam Perrett, 2 Curtis Rona, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Tyrone Phillips, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Moses Mbye, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 James Graham, 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Greg Eastwood, 13 David Klemmer. Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano, 15 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 16 Tim Browne, 17 Craig Garvey, 19 Lloyd Perrett, 21 Adam Elliot.
What to expect
A lot of action is heading out towards the Roosters’ right edge defence. Tons of action. Bronson doesn’t have as much Action as that right edge will face on Sunday. Debbie didn’t see as much action in Dallas.
Des Hasler is the kind of targeting weaknesses, and the Roosters’ main weakness is out on their right fringe with Ferguson and Burgess. I’m just going to call the combination “Burguson” from here on out.
Ferguson has been poor all year and while he’s improved the past two games slightly with the return of Pearce on his inside, he still got towelled up by Hoffman last week. he’s missing an average of 3.8 tackles a game, completing just 79 per cent of his attempts.
Burgess’ stats aren’t as dire, but that’s only because you don’t miss the tackles you don’t attempt… such as this effort where he succumbed to Chris Walker Syndrome in a play that was perfectly exploited by Tyrone Roberts:
On that side lurks Curtis Rona, who always stays on his wing and rarely fails to get the ball down when it comes his way: he scored 23 tries last year and has six in 10 games thus far. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d put some money on Rona to score at least once in this match down the Burguson edge.
For the Roosters? The best way through is to attack the halves. Both are averaging 2.5 misses a game and they’re primed for a fringe attack from the likes of Cordner — who was one of the few bright spots against the Titans with 160 metres off 19 runs with a line break and five tackle busts — or Aidan Guerra who was at best underwhelming against the Titans.
The Roosters hit the nadir Monday night. This writer kept waiting for them to switch on. He kept waiting, and waiting… and then the Jake Friend try was disallowed and it all fell to shit.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs put the Tigers to the sword in a performance that may have played them into form following a patchy start that sees them on a regular win-loss-win-loss roller-coaster all season — and this is their best chance to break that trend.
But I have a sneaky feeling the Roosters pull this one out. I don’t know what it is; stupidity, a gut feeling (in a week that my gut has been playing silly buggers on me and forced me to miss work) or blind faith. I won’t put any money on this game and I am not confident in any result.
If they lose, they’re done for the year. They won’t make the finals if they don’t start winning now — and to be honest they’re going to be hard-pressed anyway with the draw they face at the end of the year firmly on the bad side of a nightmare. But you don’t want to be out of even being a mathematical chance by Round 11, which the Roosters face with a loss this weekend.
But in a week in which Roosters fans have been turning on each other en masse (I’ve had arguments about whether Robinson is a better coach than Neil Henry, and whether Ferguson or Burgess is worse, among others) if the Roosters were going to put in a performance with their backs to the wall and with their fans on the edge of a cliff, this is it.
P.S. I’m trialling a shorter version of the previews to see how they go: I’m becoming increasingly time poor and get the feeling the previews were a bit too long in the analysis. To wit, this is about half the size of previous previews. If you prefer the old style let me know on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below. Cheers, y’all.