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The NRL’s oldest rivalry will resume without fans and on foreign ground in Sydney’s west when the Sydney Roosters look to ease some pressure against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:55pm (AEST).
The Roosters are one of six teams who are yet to win a game as the season gets back underway, and will need to turn that around in a hurry.
They may well have to win 13 of 18 games to make the top eight, so each loss to restart is only going to make that tougher.
It’s not as if they were poor in losses to the Manly Sea Eagles and Penrith Panthers to start the season, but with Kyle Flanagan and Luke Keary still trying to work on their combination in the halves, and both Mitchell Aubusson and Sio Siua Taukeiaho to miss this game, there are issues the tri-colours need to work through.
With it surely impossible that James Tedesco can play as well as he did last year, there is a clear picture that the Roosters may not be quite as good as the last two seasons.
That’s not to say they come into the derby as outsiders. The Rabbitohs are facing a myriad of their own problems.
Latrell Mitchell hasn’t fit in well at fullback, Cody Walker is suspended, their forwards are lacking a little bit of go-forward, and the team doesn’t seem to have gelled well across the paddock.
Both of these teams are struggling in attack, so it’s hard to see this being free-flowing or high-scoring, so the fitter team could take the chocolates.
There are some defensive worries out wide for South Sydney as well, with Campbell Graham and Braidon Burns in the centres against the newly recruited Josh Morris, and Joseph Manu.
That’s one battle they will have to hold their own in, but as is the case with all South Sydney games, they need to set the tempo and play a fast brand of footy. Do that, and they have f-factor talent – Mitchell, Damien Cook, Cameron Murray and Adam Reynolds – to flip games.
I’m backing the outsiders. The Roosters are traditionally poor starters, and Adam Reynolds might pull a special performance out of the bag on the back of Murray, Thomas Burgess and Liam Knight laying the platform.
Rabbitohs by 2.
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Kick-off: 7:55pm (AEST)
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
TV: Live, Fox League 502, Channel 9
Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports, 9 Now NRL Digital Pass,
Betting: Roosters $1.35, Rabbitohs $3.20
Overall record: Played 222, Rabbitohs 115, Roosters 102, drawn 5
Referee: Ashley Klein
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley
Interchange: 14. Sam Verrills 15. Sitili Tupouniua 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Siosiua Taukeiaho 19. Ryan Hall 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Poasa Faamausili
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. Campbell Graham 4. Braidon Burns 5. Alex Johnston 6. Troy Dargan 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Cameron Murray 13. Liam Knight
Interchange: 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Ethan Lowe 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Patrick Mago 18. Bryson Goodwin 19. Tom Amone 20. James Roberts 21. Keaon Koloamatangi