By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 07 – Sydney Roosters V Saint George Illawarra Dragons – Thursday, Allianz Stadium. 16.00 local time, 18.00 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: The Roosters thrashed the hapless Bulldogs 38-0
The boot of Jamie Soward let the Dragons to a one-point victory over the Tigers 13-12.
THIS WEEK: The Roosters are the kings of keeping teams to nil. Three out of the six occasions this season, the Sydneysiders have kept their opposition scoreless at full-time. That’s a formidable feat. With the ANZAC spirit in this one, the Roosters will have to be up to their best tricks to keep on track.
Saint George Illawarra have had few key signings of late for the 2014 season but there’s still a whole lot of 2013 left. A three-match win streak is keeping a good vibe within the club, but the Roosters will be an extremely tough opponent where they will have to dig the deepest.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Sydney have a ball-playing ball game which lets the dangerous players roam with freedom all over the park. They are deadly from the red-zone and even more deadly further out. They have a solid squad which has kept them in the top eight all season. The Roosters need to have used the week off to keep the pressure on, any lapse of concentration could cost them dearly.
The Dragons have been very good in the last month of football, but that means nothing if they can’t turn up and produce on the day. Territory is their game, and that’s what they do best. Keep turning their opponents around and wait for their mistakes. This will be the case once again.
THE BATTLE OF: Sweet Sixes. James Maloney has given the Roosters a great element and helped Mitchell Pearce’s game so much he looks like a different man. Maloney has slotted so well in to the Roosters it’s been seamless. The cheeky playmaker has great decision making skills which are invaluable.
Jamie Soward’s kicking game has been superb this season. Kicking field goals left, right and centre and controlling the game with 40/20’s and kicks that always hit the turf first. Soward is as his best also when he runs the line. If he continues to threaten the line, the outside backs will have a field day.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – Being added by coach Trent Robinson to the leadership group has made JWH a player that kids look up to. His style and mongrel can not be replicated.
Jack Stockwell – Better than an injury cover, this youngster has delivered all too well this season. If he keeps this up, he has a big career ahead of him.
PREDICTION: Last season’s ANZAC Day Clash was one of the most memorable games of 2012. If this game could only do the same, then we’d be in for a magical treat. This is a toughie to pick a winner, but I am going out on a limb to say the Dragons will get past the Roosters again on ANZAC Day. 18-16.
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