Roosters v Warriors Preview

Roosters v Warriors
AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Sunday 4pm (NZ Time, 2pm AEST)

One wonders if the Roosters’ coaching staff are happy to have their home game in Christchurch this weekend, considering this match shapes as a vital one for both sides.

Fresh from the bye, both the Roosters and Warriors sit mid-table and need to jag these types of matches to put themselves in with a fighting chance for the premiership.

With the Roosters in sixth and the Warriors in 10th (just a win behind them), the ramifications of this result could be long-lasting and crucial when all is said and done.

The Roosters, with the help of earlier results, could climb as high as third with a good win – but could just as easily sink to ninth with a loss.

They are still searching for some consistency in performance and have abandoned the Todd Carney fullback experiment to find it.

Mitchell Pearce returns at halfback after Origin duty, with Carney shifting over to five-eighth and Braith Anasta going to lock. Anthony Minichiello gets to wear his favoured no.1 jersey.

Frank Paul Nuuasala pushes into the back row and Tom Symonds is out.

Nate Myles returns from state duties at prop, which sees Mose Masoe move to the bench.

Daniel Conn and Martin Kennedy are also out of the side, with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves back in on the bench.

The Warriors can find a home in the top eight with victory, or at the very least stay equal on points with the pack, but a loss for them could see them drop back a place to 11th.
 
They have kept the side that beat Newcastle before the bye, only adding Sione Lousi as an 18th man.

Watch out Roosters:
Warriors halfback Isaac John looks a handy addition to the side and could cause problems for the Roosters’ defence. In just two games this season he has provided a decent kicking game, averaging 286 metres, has produced a line-break, a try and a try assists.

With a couple of weeks training with the side as the number one halfback, he could provide the X-factor in this clash. John isn’t afraid to take the line on so the big forwards better be prepared to cover the middle in case he darts back on the inside to slice through.

Watch out Warriors:
The Roosters are the best in the business when it comes to kick accuracy and as such they will be able to hem the Warriors into their half if they back it up with a solid kick-chase.
 
With 71.4 per cent of kicks finding space the Roosters have the ability to control the tempo of the game. Having three main kicking weapons in Pearce, Carney and Anasta certainly helps but the Warriors need to find a way to put pressure on the trio or they’ll face an uphill battle all afternoon. Tellingly the Warriors find space just 56.7 per cent of the time!  

Where it will be won:
One gets the feeling this match will be decided by tries from kicks.

Both sides rely pretty heavily on tries from the boot; the Roosters have 13 to be ranked fourth in the NRL and the Warriors have 12 to rank fifth.

Also, with both sides struggling to defend against tries from kicks, this could turn into a kicking war. The Warriors are third last at conceding tries from kicks (with 14) and the Roosters are fourth last with 13 conceded tries.

The biggest problem area is cross-field bombs. The Roosters successfully defuse just 50 per cent of cross-field kicks while the Warriors are even less adept at just 36 per cent. Pearce and Anasta have four try assists each from kicks, making them the danger men.

The history: Played 25; Roosters 10, Warriors 14, drawn 1. The Warriors are on a three-game streak against the Roosters and have won five of the past eight with one draw. The two teams have not met in Christchurch before but the Warriors have won three of the past four matches played in New Zealand.  

Conclusion: Here we have two teams who run hot one week and cold the next, making this a tough one to tip.

Being rested should help both sides as they look to make a push for the finals.

The Roosters have plenty of strike-power to rely on and Mitchell Pearce should be pumped to perform to keep his Origin spot, but the Warriors are on home soil and will garner most of the support.

It will probably be a tight, yet high-scoring affair, with one dropped bomb being the difference.

We’ll go out on a limb here, bucking the statistical trend, and say the beast Manu Vatuvei will climb high for a kick and steamroll over to score a winner for the Warriors.

Match officials: Referees – Ben Cummins & Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials – Steve Carrall & Henry Perenara; Video Ref – Chris Ward.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm.