Wests Tigers will be looking to complete the double over the Sydney Roosters for the first time since 2009 when they clash this Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
Ivan Cleary's side ended one of the more incredible head-to-head streaks when they downed the Tricolours in an absorbing contest back in Round 1 — just their second win in 15 games against the Roosters — and will be determined to deliver a similar result this weekend as we cross over the halfway point of the year.
Both sitting inside the top eight on for-and-against, it's been a mixed start to the year for both sides: one clearly exceeding pre-season expectations while one hasn't quite lived up to the hype just yet.
While their start to the year hasn't been as many expected, the Roosters have started to turn the corner in the past few weeks and are really starting to establish themselves as a genuine threat once again this year. They've chalked up convincing wins over the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland and the Gold Coast Titans on the Central Coast in the past month, and had they not been on the wrong end of a controversial loss in Brisbane, the Tricolours would be entering Sunday's game off the back of three straight wins.
The challenge for the home side does get noticeably tougher this week with a slew of key players unavailable due to State of Origin selection. The dominant left edge of Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco out the back has been removed for this week, while Dylan Napa creates a hole in the middle — something which Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will no doubt look to fill in his absence.
While they might be missing players, the Roosters still possess a remarkably strong squad and, importantly, have both their starting halves and hooker available for Sunday's contest.
For Wests Tigers, their brilliant start to the season has slowed somewhat over the past few weeks, but gutsy wins over the Cowboys and Bulldogs in the past few weeks has steadied the ship somewhat.
Josh Reynolds made a much-needed return from injury last week to inspire his side to a comeback victory, and as he starts to take on a larger role within the side, Coach Ivan Cleary will be hoping that his team can continue their good performances this year and maintain their spot in the top eight.
They'll line up with essentially the same team as last week, and with no players missing due to Origin, that consistency might just be the added extra Wests Tigers need over a tough middle period of the season.
Wests Tigers have not beaten the Roosters at the former Sydney Football Stadium since 2009, and will be out to turn around a run of nine straight defeats at the venue when they kick off on Sunday at 4:10pm.
Date — Sunday, June 3, 2018
Time — 4:10pm AEST (Gates open 2:00pm)
Venue — Allianz Stadium (Moore Park, Sydney)
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Fox League (Ch.502) and Channel 9
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873
Live Stream —Foxtel Go, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
Head to Head — Sydney Roosters ($2.00), Wests Tigers ($1.80)
Line — Sydney Roosters +1.5 ($1.92), Wests Tigers -1.5 ($1.92)
Odds correct as of 12:00pm, Thursday, May 31 — 18+ only and gamble responsibly
Tim Grant starts at lock in place of Matt Eisenhuth, who drops back to the bench, while Elijah Taylor starts at hooker in his 150th NRL game. Ryan Matterson (concussion) is a late withdrawal for the Roosters — forcing Nat Butcher to the starting side and Lindsay Collins to the bench.
WESTS TIGERS — 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Corey Thompson 6. Benji Marshall (capt.) 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Elijah Taylor 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Michael Chee Kam 17. Tim Grant (Interchange: 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Josh Aloiai) — Coach: Ivan Cleary
SYDNEY ROOSTERS — 1. Blake Ferguson 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph Manu 4. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Matthew Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Victor Radley 17. Nat Butcher 13. Isaac Liu (Interchange: 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Frank-Paul Nuuausala 16. Kurt Baptiste 19. Lindsay Collins) — Coach: Trent Robinson
2018 SEASON SO FAR
|WESTS TIGERS||SYDNEY ROOSTERS|
|Position||8th (14 points)||7th (14 points)|
|Points For||188 points (13th)||248 points (7th)|
|Points Against||177 points (2nd)||182 points (3rd)|
|Home Form||Won 5, Lost 2||Won 4, Lost 2|
|Away Form||Won 2, Lost 3||Won 3, Lost 3|
|Streak||Won last 1 game||Won last 1 game|
KEY MATCHUP — RUSSELL PACKER vs. JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES
Two Kiwi internationals will go head-to-head this Sunday in what's shaping as a highly entertaining and dynamic matchup in the middle of the field. The spiritual leaders of both packs, both Packer and Waerea-Hargreaves will be looking to put their sides on the front foot and really win the arm wrestle up front, and it'll be intriguing to see which classy prop can get the upper hand in this regard. With Dylan Napa unavailable, all eyes will be on the Roosters big man to see if he can carry this team forward and continue his good record against Wests Tigers, having lost just twice in his career. However, as was seen back in Round 1, this is a very different looking team under Coach Ivan Cleary in 2018 and the presence of Packer alongside Ben Matulino and Elijah Taylor has added some much needed steel and defensive resolve.
One quirky stat to note here: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves best game in defence (33 tackles in Round 2) and attack (171 metres in Round 10) both resulted in wins for his side. Russell Packer's best game in defence (57 tackles in Round 3) and attack (117 metres in Round 3) saw his side go down to the Brisbane Broncos.
However, one area where Packer does have clear advantage: he is yet to make a single error in 2018.
Match Referees — Grant Atkins and Phil Henderson
Touch Judges — Kasey Badger and Nick Morel
Review Officials — Luke Patten and Jared Maxwell