Match Preview: Roosters v Bulldogs

The Sydney Roosters will host long-time rivals the Bulldogs this Friday night to kick off Men of League Heritage Round for 2013, in a match that sees Sonny Bill Williams face his former club for the first time since returning back to the NRL after a four-season absence.


SBWs return to the game has been undoubtedly one of the stories of the year and this Round 6 meeting between his new and former club has been pencilled on plenty of NRL fans calendars since the draw was released earlier this year.


Both sides are coming off the back of a loss in Round 5, with the Bulldogs downed by the high-flying Sea Eagles and the Raiders coming from behind to beat the boys from Bondi in a Sunday evening thriller.


Des Haslers boys will be out to kick-start their season after registering just one win from their opening five matches, back in Round 2 against the Eels, and with whats set to be a passionate fan base behind them in the stands now is as good a time as ever for the boys from Belmore.


Trent Robinsons side currently lead the league in line breaks (30), tackles made (1688) and metres gained from kicks (3259) with the Tricolours managing 206 minutes straight without conceding a point from the 74th minute in Round 2 until early in the second-half last Sunday night when the Raiders broke down the Bondi wall.


Robinson has made no secret of the fact his main focus this year is building their game plan around their defence and early signs would indicate that progress is being made in the right direction for the new-look Roosters outfit.


However one of their first real tests will come this Friday night against a Bulldogs side who in 2012 showed that their attack is up there with, if not, the best in the league.


With the likes of Barba, Reynolds and Ennis feeding their big-men Pritchard, Tolman and Eastwood, the boys from Belmore have the potential to pile on the points whoever theyre up against and last years grand-finalists will be as hungry as ever come Friday night.


Barba may be underdone in the eyes of many, however the 2012 Dally M winner is sure to be a threat throughout the full 80 following his return to the game in Round 4 against the Bunnies and will surely put Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello to the test in a battle of the number ones.


However, even with all the SBW talk and two of the games best-ever fullbacks going head-to-head, the real battle may be between the two number sixes. With Laurie Daley this week confirming Mitchell Pearce will wear the Blues number seven shirt, the race is on for who will win out the role to play alongside Junior come June 5th.


Maloney has been in excellent form since making the move to the Roosters for the 2013 season, with the former Warrior already closing in on 50 season points after just five matches. Reynolds is the man many thought would walk into the role for the State of Origin series, following a breakthrough year in 2012, however the challenge is certainly on from Maloney and a handful of other contenders.


Whether or not either of these battles will decide the result is a different question, however the sub-plots built within this massive story of a Friday Night Footy match is certain to add to what is already the most talked about match so far in 2013.



Click here to see the Teams named, from both sides


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