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Round 20 commences tonight when the Sydney Roosters take on the Parramatta Eels at BB Print Stadium in Mackay. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7:50pm (AEST).
If the Sydney Roosters are to have any hope of reaching the top four, they need to beat the Parramatta Eels tonight. A loss would mean they fall two wins and points differential behind the Eels, with only five rounds remaining after this weekend. It is that crucial.
The Chooks are coming off three straight wins but the quality of the opposition may have been a factor. With three mid-season retirements and a number of season-ending injuries, the Bondi club’s depth is being pushed to the limit.
The Roosters did well to come back from an 8-0 deficit against the Knights last Friday, to eventually win 28-8. However, the Knights looked rudderless without Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga was closely marked.
Plenty of injury concerns again for the Roosters.
Josh Morris comes back into the side to replace the luckless Billy Smith. Joey Manu replaces Matt Ikuvalu on the wing, with Adam Keighran coming into the centres. Siosiua Taukeiaho is expected to make his return from a hamstring complaint.
Without Mitchell Moses in their line-up, the Eels didn’t throw much at a resurgent Raiders last weekend, going down 12-10 in a defence-oriented match.
With Moses gone for an extended period, much responsibility falls on the shoulders of Clint Gutherson and Dylan Brown. Behind one of the better forward packs in the comp, they need to be better tonight.
Tom Opacic will return at centre after being rested in Round 19. Marata Niukore is out with a knee injury, with Bryce Cartwright coming in as a replacement.
This match will be billed as the battle of the fullbacks but I think it’s the young halves that may decide it.
Sam Walker and Dylan Brown are no doubt future stars of the game but the grind of the week-to-week NRL may be taking its toll on Walker.
I think the Parramatta forward pack will pick him out in defence, with Reed Mahoney really important in this regard.
It will be tight, but the Eels will get up.
Parramatta Eels by 6.
Kick-off: 7:50pm (AEST)
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
TV: Nine, Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo, Foxtel, NRL Live Pass
Odds: Roosters: $2.38; Eels: $1.58 (odds via PlayUp)
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Adam Keighran 5. Joseph Manu 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley
Interchange: 14. Lachlan Lam 15. Nat Butcher 16. Egan Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Jakob Arthur 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Shaun Lane 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Will Smith