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The Sydney Roosters will look to continue their improvement with Cooper Cronk back on the field when they head back to the Sydney Cricket Ground for a clash against the inconsistent Brisbane Broncos. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 8:05pm (AEDT).
Cronk has missed the last two weeks, but all reports suggest he will be back in action this weekend, and the Roosters will be grateful for it.
Luke Keary has done a strong job leading the team around, virtually on his own with wins over the Sea Eagles and Eels, but given their only game at full strength resulted in the Rabbitohs forward pack bullying them, there is still a lot to prove.
Keary was outstanding in their victories, but its his combination with Cronk on the back of a strong forward pack which took the Roosters to a premiership last season.
The Roosters are also undoubtedly missing Blake Ferguson, and that’s made their forwards look a little weaker so far this season. Starting sets was an area the Roosters dominated last year, and through Daniel Tupou and James Tedesco.
The battle of possession and territory is a particularly important one against the Broncos, who have a very strong back three in Darius Boyd, Jamayne Isaako and Corey Oates. However, if the Roosters can allow their kicks to come from close range and not give those players the room to wind up, the territorial battle will be an easy battle to take.
Brisbane, even if they can get their sets off to a good start – which they didn’t manage to do all that often against the Dragons last week – need their forwards to be better at controlling the ball.
The biggest problem the Broncos face is their halves combination and a controllable kicking game. It’s hardly surprising, given Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima are both classed as ‘running halves.’ It leaves them without an organiser, and so unless they constantly play with good field position, it’s hard for them to wrestle their way back into games.
Last week, the Broncos forwards dropped the ball more than they held it. There is a lot of potential among names like Tevita Pangai Junior, Jaydn Su’A and Joe Ofahengaue, but that potential goes nowhere with the ball being dropped on the ground.
It could be said their ball handling cost them the game against the Dragons last week, and there is almost no question that if they do similar this week, they will be looking at their third loss in four weeks to start 2019.
The Roosters probably have a bit more going for them across the park, and it’d be a surprise if they didn’t manage to come away with the win here.
Roosters by 8.
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Kick-off: 8:05pm (AEDT)
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
TV: Live, Fox League 502, Channel 9
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports
Betting: Roosters $1.75, Broncos $2.12
Overall record: Played 48, Roosters 29, Broncos 19
Last meeting: Roosters 8 defeated by Broncos 22 at SFS
Last five: Broncos 3, Roosters 2
Record at venue: Never played
Referees: Ashley Klein, Phil Henderson
1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Matt Ikuvalu, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Victor Radley, 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Isaac Liu
Interchange: 14. Lindsay Collins, 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Poasa Faamausili, 17. Angus Crichton, 18. Nat Butcher, 19. Sitili Tupouniua, 20. Sam Verrlis, 23. Lachlan Lam
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Kontoni Staggs, 4. Jack Bird, 5. Jamayne Isaako, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Matt Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Joe Ofahengaue, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Tevita Pangai Junior
Interchange: 14. Gehamat Shibasaki, 15. Jaydn Su’A, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. David Fifita, 18. Patrick Carrigan, 19. Shaun Fensom, 20. Izaia Perese, 21. Richard Kennar