Sydney Roosters v New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 2.00pm (AEST)
This Sunday Allianz Stadium will host the ultimate battle of defence against attack when the Roosters host the Warriors in Round 19.
The excitement and expectation in New Zealand reached new heights this week as the Warriors crept into the top four with a victory over the Storm, headlined by another brilliant attacking display which propelled them to the equal-most tries in the Telstra Premiership.
Meanwhile the Roosters consolidated their position in third place with a comprehensive win at Penrith, and with their Origin stars back on deck and no significant injuries to note the Tricolours look a force to be reckoned with as they continue to produce the NRL's best defensive record.
The hosts have made just one positional change for the clash with the Warriors, with Aidan Guerra starting at lock and Isaac Liu going back to the bench.
Coach Trent Robinson has included youngster Jackson Hastings as 18th man.
It is a similar story for Andrew McFadden's Warriors, who have Jacob Lillyman back in the starting 13 and Albert Vete on the bench, while veteran prop Sam Rapira is 18th man.
Representative stars Manu Vatuvei, Konrad Hurrell and Ryan Hoffman haven't been named as they continue to recover from injuries.
Watch out Roosters: The Warriors possess arguably the best attack in the competition this season, leading all teams in line breaks (averaging five per game), and sitting tied with the Raiders and Broncos for most tries (four per game). They have scored at least 28 points in each of their past three games, and last up against the Storm they broke the line seven times on their way to scoring five tries.
High error counts have been the leading cause of several Roosters' defeats in 2015. Averaging almost 12 every game they sit second for the most mistakes in the Telstra Premiership, behind only the Warriors. The New Zealanders are specialists in taking advantage of cheap handovers.
Watch out Warriors: The Roosters forward pack is one of the few who can match and better what the Warriors' big men are capable of. Last week against the Panthers every one of the Roosters' starting pack - bar Isaac Liu - ran for over 100 metres, while off the bench both Sam Moa and Boyd Cordner did the same.
Some strong goal line defence saved them in the end, but the Warriors handed over enough ball to allow the Storm back into the match last week. After completing at just 68 percent the Warriors ended the game with less possession than their opponents despite dominating most of the 80 minutes. They simply can't afford to do the same against a quality Roosters side with halves who will take full advantage.
Key Match-Up: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves v Ben Matulino. For the second week in a row Matulino comes face-to-face with a fellow Kiwi international in a battle for front-row supremacy. In an attacking sense Matulino has it over JWH in almost every category, running more often for more metres. But it's in the defence and aggression stakes that Waerea-Hargreaves excels, averaging 30 tackles a game and ensuring opposing forward packs feel the fear.
The History: Played 34; Roosters 15, Warriors 18, drawn 1. Despite trailing in the overall head-to-head record the Roosters have enjoyed some success of late, thrashing the Warriors 46-12 last season and backing it up with 25-21 win in Round 14 this year. Recent history shows their clashes tend to be close ones, with nine of their last 11 decided by 12 points or less.
What Are The Odds: As much as $3.85 was offered for the Warriors, but Sportsbet customers have been snapping up the juicy odds ever since. The most popular option in margin betting has been the Warriors 13+. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Did You Know: When it comes to being bound by history the Roosters are unrivalled, as the only club to compete in every round of the competition since its inception in 1908. The Tricolours have won 13 Premierships in that time and this year celebrate the 40-year anniversary of their 1975 premiership victory.
Match Officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant Referee: Grant Atkins. Touch Judges: Nick Beashel and Matt Noyen. Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports - Live from 2.00pm AEST. Sky Sport – Live from 4.00pm NZT.
The Way We See It: The Warriors have been enjoying some great form of late, scoring tries for fun and last week showing an excellent commitment to defence. But none of the teams they have beaten recently have been near the quality of the Roosters, who at home are a formidable beast. It will likely go down to the last 15 minutes, where the Bondi boys will have too much class and win by eight.