The Roosters passed a solid test with last week's 32-18 defeat of the resurgent Eels, while the Broncos failed their exam with a 25-24 home loss to the Dragons.
Trent Robinson had proper cause for concern when the Eels pulled ahead midway through the second half against Parra, but the Roosters flicked the switch (well at least James Tedesco and Siosiua Taukeiaho did) and showed the Eels they've still got a ways to go before the're top four contenders.
Strangely the Broncos were off the boil from the start against the Dragons and never really got going despite drawing ahead 12-10 at half-time.
Anthony Seibold will be counting on a much more polished performance against the premiers, who expect to have star playmaker Cooper Cronk back from a two-week injury layoff.
Roosters: In a late change an hour before kick-off Angus Crichton again moves into the starting side and Mitch Aubusson reverts to the bench. Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (rib) was ruled out after the captain's run with Zane Tetevano to start at prop. With Cooper Cronk returning from a hamstring injury, Luke Keary shifts to five-eighth and Latrell Mitchell to the centres while back-up half Lachlan Lam dropped out of the 21 on Wednesday. Victor Radley comes in at hooker for the injured Jake Friend (shoulder). Lindsay Collins and Nat Butcher join the interchange bench. Sam Verrills and Sitili Tupouniua were omitted an hour before game time.
Broncos: James Roberts (Achilles) is replaced in the centres by Kotoni Staggs. With Matt Lodge returning from suspension at prop, Tevita Pangai jnr shifts back to lock and David Fifita goes to the bench. Gehamat Shibasaki has been promoted to the bench. Shaun Fensom is out of the 17 which lost to the Dragons. Isaiah Perese and Richie Kennar dropped off the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off. Patrick Carrigan and Fensom were omitted an hour before game time.
Tedesco showed once again how much he loves pressure with his sublime crunch-time performance against the Eels. If he wasn't on the field there's a good chance the Roosters don't win that game. Veteran Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd will have to produce a vintage display against 'Teddy' on Thursday, while Tevita Pangai's battle with Taukeiaho should be a belter.
For the Roosters to win
Luke Keary conjured moments of magic against Parra and can't let himself take too much of a back seat if Cronk returns as expected. Latrell Mitchell still isn't firing on all cylinders and the same goes for his centre partner Joseph Manu. With no Blake Ferguson to pick up the slack, Mitchell and Manu need to step up and not leave all the fancy stuff to Keary, Tedesco and Cronk.
For the Broncos to win
The return of prop Matt Lodge from a two-game suspension should bolster the Broncos up front, while Pangai has to nullify Taukeiaho's damaging runs. The Broncos can't afford to play well one week and ordinary the next or they can forget about the top four, let alone a premiership. A repeat of last week's 69% completion rate won't cut it against the Roosters.
Brett Kimmorley says ...
Cooper Cronk has been named to return and it will be interesting to see what that does to Luke Keary’s domination of game management and getting into first pivot. James Tedesco was wonderful last week. For the Broncos the key is to not leak so many yards when defending. Last week the Dragons were able to get far up the field when they had the ball. Roosters by 4
Roosters Stat Attack
Tedesco put on a masterclass last week against the Eels, finishing with two tries, two line breaks, one line break assist and one try assist. He also clocked 137 run metres and was at his elusive best with an eye-popping 11 of his team's 28 tackle breaks.
Broncos Stat Attack
Hooker Andrew McCullough worked hard in defence with a team-high 47 tackles against the Dragons, missing just two. However, centre Jack Bird had his problems in defence, finishing the game with five missed tackles and four ineffective tackles.
And another thing ...
With all due respect to Jake friend, the Roosters might not miss him as much as they're anticipating. Good as Friend is, he isn't as young as Victor Radley and doesn't have the quite the same zip out of dummy-half. With Cronk and Keary ranking as arguably the NRL's best halves duo, coach Trent Robinson can use the versatile Radley as his first-choice hooker in Friend's absence and use the very capable Lachlan Lam as a back-up dummy-half if need be.