Vodafone Warriors v Sydney Roosters
Mount Smart Stadium
4.00pm, Sunday, April 30
Following tough encounters on Anzac Day the Vodafone Warriors and Sydney Roosters both have short turnarounds before meeting in Auckland in round nine.
After footing it, and even getting the better of Melbourne for 65 minutes, the Vodafone Warriors ultimately left AAMI Park with nothing to show for their efforts and, after suffering their fifth defeat of the year in the 14-20 loss on Tuesday, now sit 12th on the NRL ladder.
The Roosters on the other hand snatched a dramatic victory in golden point over the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the right boot of Mitchell Pearce making the difference in a 13-12 win which lifts the Bondi men to third position.
With Solomone Kata (hamstring) out injured, the Vodafone Warriors have called on their 2016 Intrust Super Premiership player of the year Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to make his NRL debut on the wing.
That sees Blake Ayshford shift to the centres while Manu Vatuvei and Albert Vete join the extended bench.
Former Vodafone Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman will play his 50th match for the club.
For the Roosters veteran back-rower Mitchell Aubusson and prop Dylan Napa return to start in the pack, which means Isaac Liu and former Vodafone Warrior Sio Siua Taukeiaho fall back to the bench.
Latrell Mitchell has been included in the Roosters' reserves.
Why the Vodafone Warriors can win: With the exception of a couple of 40-minute periods this season, the Vodafone Warriors are looking after the ball very well and starving teams of attacking opportunities as a result. In three of their last four games the Vodafone Warriors have completed at over 80 per cent and across the season they have the fourth-best completion rate in the NRL. The New Zealand side also averages just 10.5 errors per match, which ranks them in the top half of the competition. If they can keep the ball away from the Roosters it's going to make for a tough day out for the visiting side.
Why the Roosters can win: While the Roosters and Vodafone Warriors are well matched through the spine, the Tricolours have an edge in the forwards, where they possess a number of dynamic performers who can do some damage at Mount Smart Stadium. In their last two matches the Roosters have had three players in their starting pack who have run for over 100 metres, and crucially in each of those games have also had someone do the same off the bench. That go-forward could cause the Vodafone Warriors some real issues, especially given their big men have struggled to consistently make an impact this year.
The History: Vodafone Warriors v Roosters | Played 37, Vodafone Warriors 20, Roosters 16, Drawn 1. While the Vodafone Warriors won both meetings last year, the recent record head-to-head is fairly even with the Roosters having won three-straight matches against the Kiwi franchise prior to that. At Mount Smart Stadium since 1998, the Warriors have lost only six times to the Roosters in 16 meetings.
What are the odds: This is a very even game according to the odds but punters are preferring the Roosters. Latest odds at www.tab.co.nz
Vodafone Warriors | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Blake Ayshford, David Fusitu'a, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; James Gavet, Issac Luke, Jacob Lillyman; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Ligi Sao, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Manu Vatuvei, Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa, Mafoa'aeata Hingano.
Sydney Roosters | Michael Gordon; Daniel Tupou, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Joseph Manu, Blake Ferguson; Luke Keary, Mitchell Pearce; Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend (c), Dylan Napa; Boyd Cordner (c), Mitchell Aubusson; Aidan Guerra. Interchange: Isaac Liu, Zane Tetevano, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Paul Carter, Latrell Mitchell, Kane Evans, Connor Watson, Jayden Nikorima.
Match officials | Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant referee: Jon Stone. Sideline officials: Jeff Younis and Clayton Sharpe. Review official: Jared Maxwell. Senior review official: Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 2.00pm (AEDT). SKY Sports - Live coverage from 4.00pm (NZT).
NRL.com predicts: These two sides match up nicely on paper, and all indicators point to a close battle which should go down to the final few minutes. If that's the case then mental toughness will make all the difference.
- This first appeared on nrl.com