Wests Tigers v Roosters
Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Tries, tries and more tries. This is the forecast for the good people of Campbelltown this Sunday when the Roosters travel out to take on the Wests Tigers.
Sure recent history might show it’s two teams coming off a loss, but buckle up as the future foretells a cracking game of razzle-dazzle footy with excitement at every corner.
It was only back in Round 2 when the teams put on a 14-try performance, the match going to the Roosters 44-32 and now, in the re-match, the sides look set to hit similar heights in attack. (But here is the disclaimer: Both sides are playing without first-choice halfbacks this weekend, so let’s cut them some slack if the 14-try barrier isn’t reached or broken.)
Last weekend saw the Tigers beaten in the battle of the big cats in Penrith, a result that slid them down to 7th on the NRL ladder, while the Roosters couldn’t go the full 80 minutes with the Dragons during an Anzac Day classic, leaving them in sixth spot.
Just the baby sum of two differential points separates these two sides on the table, so barring a rare draw the winner will get a handy break over the other and potentially push into the top four.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has decided to rest Blake Lazarus from halfback, instead opting for Robbie Farah to move from hooker to take the no.7 jersey. This sees Liam Fulton move to hooker and Mark Flanagan shift into the second row.
Geoff Daniela is also off the bench, with Mitch Brown and Nathan Waters added to the squad.
Sadly, the Roosters have lost the in-form Mitchell Pearce but luckily can replace the halfback with Todd Carney.
His shift up from fullback sees Anthony Minichiello go from wing to the back, Phil Graham shift out to the wing, and Ben Jones come into the side at centre.
Watch out Wests Tigers: For quite some time the Wests Tigers have been the line-break kings but so far this season the crown is sitting on the Roosters’ perch. With a massive 42 line-breaks already this season – that’s six a game – the Roosters rank first in the NRL, making them an extremely dangerous commodity.
Todd Carney leads the way with six line-breaks, Mitch Aubusson and Sam Perrett have five each while Phil Graham and Shaun Kenny-Dowall have four apiece. The good news for the home side is Pearce has seven line-break assists, but he won’t be contributing in this game.
Watch out Roosters: The Wests Tigers will come at you from all over the park so don’t assume you are safe at any time.
While most teams compress their defence when they have a team pinned in their own half, the Roosters need to be wary of a quick shift from the Tigers. With 10 tries scored from over halfway, the Wests Tigers are by far the most prolific long-range scorers in the competition.
The Roosters have conceded four tries this season from this range and if they aren’t careful this number could rise. If Benji Marshall or Farah spot a chance, they’ll try to take it.
Where it will be won: Quite simply, the side that makes the adjustments better will win this match.
The loss of Pearce and the movement from dummy-half for Farah changes how each side will operate, and although both have adequate cover, the shift in attacking approach will provide a few hiccups.
The Tigers get a lot of their punch after Farah exposes holes in and around the ruck and they get to attack against a retreating defence. Liam Fulton is a reasonable player but he, nor any other player they throw in there, is going to be able to replicate Farah’s ability to get the job done. Of course Farah will still be attacking, but from distance, giving defenders more time to adjust and react.
For the Roosters, Pearce’s absence is a major blow. Yes they have Carney, who is also a representative-level player, but after successfully creating a three-pronged attack through these two and Braith Anasta, they now must quickly adjust to having just two. A lot of pressure now falls to Anthony Minichiello to become a link man on wide sweeps, and getting the timing right on these plays can take a while.
The reshuffle will give Carney more of a licence to thrill but also heaps the pressure on him; can he survive it, or will he try too hard and allow it to drown him?
The history: Played 16; Wests Tigers 7, Roosters 9. The Roosters handed the Wests Tigers a 44-32 pummelling earlier this season but still have only won three of the past eight against the Tigers.
There have been four games played at Campbelltown with the spoils shared at two apiece.
Conclusion: This shapes as another tough game to pick, with both teams having legitimate confidence.
The home ground advantage might just tip the scales to the Tigers, although they have been sketchy in the past few weeks. This is certainly not a game to stick your neck out on so just go with your gut and then cross your fingers.
Match officials: Referees – Ashley Klein & Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Luke Potter; Video Ref – Paul Simpkins.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm