In a weekend full of salivating clashes, one game stands out to me.
In my eyes it’s THE game within the regular season. The two most bitter of rivals, both on and off the field, clashing for bragging rights and competition points.
Absolutely everything about this clash screams CLASSIC. Often when games promise so much they can deliver so little, but I have no doubt in the world that this will be a beauty.
Two Premiership heavyweights looking to continue their decent (or in the Roosters case, electric) start to the season.
The Roosters, who have blown away two victims to this date, are looking to send a message that they can have their way with a fellow title-contender.
Embed from Getty ImagesThe Bunnies, after losing a first round clash with the Storm, are looking to prove their title credentials.
Of course the big personnel clash comes in the form of the battle of the number ones.
In one corner you have the undisputed best fullback in the game in James Tedesco. For mine he’s also the undisputed number one player in the competition. He’s started the season breathing fire and looks set for yet another brilliant season.
In the other corner you have the game’s former best centre, and a player who is fast becoming an elite fullback in Latrell Mitchell. With every passing game looks more and more dangerous. After a second off-season training in the role, he has also started the season in brilliant fashion.
Just as a quick aside, anyone slimming Damien Cook for suggesting Latrell is a better fullback than Tedesco; what did you want him to do? Admit his fullback might only be the second best in the world?
Out wide you have four of the best wingers in the competition.
The Tri-Colours boast the player who is currently leading the Dally M count with a perfect six votes in Brett Morris. The never-aging Morris became the first player in dead-set 100 years to open the season with back to back hat-tricks.
— NRL (@NRL) March 21, 2021
With all due respect to the Sea Eagles and Tigers, a three-piece against the Bunnies would sit proudly atop his achievements.
On the other wing you have Daniel Tupou, who has been quiet this season mainly due to the traffic being sent down the other side of the field. He has been at his metre-eating best and will be chomping at the bit to cross for a four-pointer on Friday.
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Roosters fans won’t need reminding, but Souths fans will be insisting that I do, re Johnston’s try exploits the last time these two teams met. He finished as the 2020 competition’s top try-scorer on the back of a ridiculous five tries against the Chooks.
Mansour, despite being dropped last week, remains an elite level winger and will be looking to make the role his long-term.
You could pick out any direct matchup across the park but for mine the battle of the centres is the highlight.
Morris and Manu (recognised as the game’s best centre) matching with Dane Gagai and Campbell Graham. SIGN ME UP!!! If any of those four players can find space and early ball, then it could go a long way to deciding this contest.
In the halves you have three rep-quality halves and a youngster stepping up to the biggest contest in his young career. You’d have to say it’s advantage Souths in that regard, although do not count out Lam.
Cody Walker looked in a mood early against the Sea Eagles but you get the feeling he knew the game was won and held back a little. I expect no such mercy against the old enemy.
Up front, I like the Roosters pack… a lot. Especially with the return of Angus Crichton.
Tupouniua ad Collins have been absolute monsters since their promotion into the starting 13. You’d have to think it will be very difficult to remove them now.
Victory Radley’s return on the bench makes the Roosters even stronger. The aforementioned Crichton had a week to put his feet up to prepare for this contest after serving a one-game ban.
The Bunnies will need Burgess and Murray to lead the way. I can’t see Jai Arrow remaining on the bench for too long if the Roosters take control of the middle early on.
At nine the Bunnies hold a big advantage. After being written off following one less than stellar game, Damien Cook exploded into 2021 at Brookvale Oval.
Freddy Lussick is a brilliant young player but he is the team’s third choice option whereas Cook is the first nine picked for the national side.
This is really difficult to tip. The Roosters will want to avenge their horror loss prior to the finals last year and are the form team of the competition right now.
Both sides loathe each other, which is always fun for the neutral.
I think the Roosters will lead early but ultimately Souths’ full strength spine will see them home via a late winner. Souths by 6.