Panthers v Eels: Josh Mansour v Semi Radradra
Two of the game's most robust wingers probably won't exchange pleasantries – or tackle breaks – at any point on Friday night given both enforce their power games on their team's left edge. But that doesn't make it any less interesting to see which one leaves their Godzilla-like imprint on the game. The Eels have made no secret of their game plan to find the latest Fijian flyer on the end of their set plays, while in contrast, Mansour certainly isn't a player who sits around waiting for the ball to come to him.
Get your ticket to NRL Round 12Roosters v Raiders: James Maloney v Terry Campese
This pair have copped plenty from the armchair and commentary experts alike this year, but when you're a NSW five-eighth from the past decade, that's simply par for the course. Both bounced back to something nearing their best form last week as their respective attacks wound up and let fly at under-strength oppositions, recording two try assists each as Campese in particular rediscovered a running game some feared had gone the way of the Tassie Tiger and $3.50 schooners. They're unlikely to come across each other too often in the heat of battle given they both favour the left side of the field, but with the second most missed tackles in the game (51), Maloney can expect to be targeted by the Raiders as Campese (six try assists and three line break assists this year) marshals their plethora of wide-running back-rowers.
Cowboys v Storm: Matt Scott & James Tamou v Jesse Bromwich & Bryan Norrie
Obviously a lot of the focus falls on the Storm's replacements for the injured dynamic trio Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith but North Queensland know that without Smith's guiding hand there will be some disruption to the ruck that they can expose and exploit through their Kangaroos front row of Scott and Tamou. It will be a real challenge for their opposition counterparts Bromwich and Norrie to hold their own and the battle of the bookends could determine who banks the competition points.
Warriors v Knights: Simon Mannering v Adam Cuthbertson
Although the pair won’t immediately jump out as key figures in this contest, they are both workaholic back-rowers who clean up the mess in defence and allow their more expressive teammates to do what they do best. Last week Mannering made 33 tackles with only one missed, ran for 124 metres and scored a try which ultimately changed the game in his side’s favour. Similarly Cuthbertson got through a huge amount of work for the Knights, making 18 runs for 157 metres and clocking up 31 tackles in only 59 minutes.
Broncos v Sea Eagles: Ben Hunt v Daly Cherry-Evans' replacement
One was anointed during the week as the form halfback of the competition while the other will need to fill big boots indeed, given Cherry-Evans' incredible impact for the Manly team in recent outings. The question marks hanging over whether Ben Hunt is a long-term No.7 for the Broncos have dissipated as he continually comes up with match-defining plays when his team needs them. Last week against the Wests Tigers he laid on a try (taking his tally of try assists to eight) , came up with a crucial line break (his 10th of the season) and slotted two pressure kicks at goal to earn his side a two-point victory. Add the seven tries he has scored himself and it is clear he is the man that will most threaten the Sea Eagles' defence. Meanwhile the Sea Eagles have options of playing Kieran Foran at halfback with either Jack Littlejohn or co-captain Jamie Lyon at five-eighth. Given the sizeable disruption if Hunt can find a way to win this individual battle, the Broncos are on track for an upset.
Rabbitohs v Dragons: Adam Reynolds v Benji Marshall
The battle of the No.7s should light up ANZ Stadium on Monday night. While Rabbitohs halfback Reynolds could be considered unlucky that he missed out on a sky blue jersey, especially with four line-breaks, two 40/20s, six try assists, three line break assists and 22 tackle breaks to his name, he will be well tuned to take on the former Kiwi captain. While Benji's only statistic worth mentioning is his five errors (in one appearance) he'll be better for the initial run and the week off to build on his combinations with the Dragons.