By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 11 – Sydney Roosters V Melbourne Storm – Saturday, Allianz Stadium. 19.30 local time, 21.30 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: Sydney edged out the Cowboys in a close game 12-8.
Melbourne played out the first draw of the season, 10-10 against Manly.
THIS WEEK: The Roosters fierce forward pack has to muscle up big time. Melbourne are the sort of team who thrive against a big pack, and soak everything up. The pressure is on the Roosters to front up to everything and be the side that starts the strongest.
What’s going on with the Storm? Despite not it being their best effort last week, it was clear that the Storm know what’s going wrong and are doing everything they can to stop it. With ball retention extremely important against the Roosters, they need to keep a hold on the ball to make sure they can keep the game in their favour.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Roosters backline to make more of an impact then their forwards. It’s a tough thing to say, because up front the Roosters are destructive, but when the backs get the ball they look brilliant. Use that to the best they can and it’s an 80 minute highlights reel.
Melbourne will make sure they get off to the best start possible. Any sniff Sydney get could spell a loss from early as the first set off the kick off. The halves need to be in over time, with the amount of talent in their pools, it’s only a matter of time before they click in to gear during this match.
THE BATTLE OF: Centre-stage. Michael Jennings has been rejuvenated and nothing short of sensational since his off-season move to the Roosters. His form more than warrants Blues selection, and with another solid performance here could just cement him in Origin 1.
Will Chambers is a gift that keeps on giving. When you think you’ve gotten the best out of him – there’s more to it then that. His defence has been tested the last few weeks but he’s the kind of player who will not let that get him down.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Jake Friend. His name doesn’t get tossed around enough in the circle of hard-workers, but it definitely should be.
Jesse Bromwich. This Kiwi powerhouse is the player that with that little bit more emphasis can break a tackle to lead to an off-load, which leads to a try.
PREDICTION:The Roosters have been the team I’ve enjoyed watching the most this season. The team dynamic just works so incredibly well. I think at home they can get past Melbourne. 22-14.
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