Roosters fans must've been sweating when the Tigers got the jump on the Chooks early in the second half last week.

But a little bit of magic from Latrell Mitchell and Luke Keary turned the tide and then the Roosters relied on defence over the final 20 minutes to secure a crucial victory.

They should be at virtual full strength on Sunday, depending on how their Origin stars pull up.

The Cowboys are coming off a round 15 road loss to the Dragons and need to win almost all their remaining games to force their way into the playoffs.

Match: Roosters v Cowboys

Round 17 -

Full Time
Roosters

Home Team

Roosters

Scored 12 points
Cowboys

Away Team

Cowboys

Scored 15 points

Venue: Central Coast Stadium

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS
  • KAYO

The Rundown

Team news

Roosters: In a late change, Jake Friend drops back to the bench, with Victor Radley (No.13) to start at hooker. Isaac Liu moves from the bench to start at lock. Friend has not played since round seven. In the other team news to emerge an hour before kick-off, Lindsay Collins and Sam Verrills were dropped from the squad. In another boost to the pack, Siosiua Taukeiaho returns from concussion. Blues Origin reps James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner have not been named. Lachlan Lam and Matt Ikuvalu were trimmed from the reserves on Saturday.

Cowboys: Michael Morgan (concussion) has been replaced at five-eighth by John Asiata, while Matt Scott is a welcome addition after missing four games with a shoulder injury. The veteran prop has been named on the bench. Reuben Cotter and Corey Jensen were omitted from the squad 60 minutes before kick-off. Scott Bolton goes back to the bench after starting in round 15 while Javid Bowen has been recalled on the wing. Coen Hess was cleared to return from a knee injury and has been elevated from the reserves to the bench. Murray Taulagi was cut from the reserves on Saturday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 Joseph Manu
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Jordan Kahu
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Brett Morris
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Tom Opacic
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Ryan Hall
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Javid Bowen
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 14 John Asiata
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford

Forwards

  • Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Jake Granville
  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Nat Butcher
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Gavin Cooper
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Shane Wright
  • Lock for Roosters is number 14 Isaac Liu
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Roosters is number 9 Jake Friend
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Matthew Scott
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Angus Crichton
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Scott Bolton
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Sitili Tupouniua
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Poasa Faamausili
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 18 Coen Hess

Key match-up

Latrell Mitchell bounced back to form last week against the Tigers and will be hoping to put in an eye-catching performance against the Cowboys, whilst Tom Opacic will be looking to add to his season total of six after scoring a double against the Dragons last time out.

For the Roosters to win

They need to pay a bit more attention to defensive detail and get that hard-edged consistency back into their game. Keary and Cronk have to put their collective stamp on the game early and force the Cowboys to play catch-up, while Robinson will be banking on another big game from Mitchell.

For the Cowboys to win

They've shown glimpses during games that they can compete with the best sides and it's going to take a truly special 80-minute effort to upset the Roosters, who will probably start to get serious about the back end of the season now that the Origin period has ended. The Cowboys need to match the Roosters forwards and much of that responsibility falls to Jason Taumalolo.

Brett Kimmorley says

The Roosters are starting to get their team back together. Luke Keary was classy but still not at his best last week. Once the rep players are all back we will see the best team on paper in the league get some consistency and then get their brand of football to where they think they can win the competition. Roosters by 10

Stat Attack

Latrell Mitchell is well on the way to the NRL's point-scoring crown for 2019 after another productive performance last week. Mitchell is on 153 points - 25 clear of second-placed Jarrod Croker and 37 ahead of third-placed Kalyn Ponga. James Tedesco leads the NRL in line breaks (13) and tackle breaks (89).

And another thing ...

The Roosters squared off with the Cowboys just once in 2018, prevailing 26-20 after leading 16-8 at half-time. The game marked the last time Cooper Cronk and the retiring Johnathan Thurston were on the same field. Thurston showed he could still play at the age of 35, scoring a try and kicking four goals.