NRL Match Preview | Round 2 v Rabbitohs
Not only the battle of the weekend but also already being touted as the potential battle of the season, this weekend's meeting between arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs is set to excite and entertain.
The sides last met in the 2014 Preliminary Final at the same venue, ANZ Stadium, with the eventual Premiers ending Trent Robinson's Roosters chances of back-to-back titles. With that in mind this weekend's clash carries just that little bit more weight as the Bondi Boys search for redemption.
As well as putting to bed any memories of last season, Robinson's side will be out to continue an impressive start to Season 2015 after blowing the Cowboys off the park in Townsville last Saturday night with a 28-4 victory.
With a fit and firing Mitchell Pearce [pictured] leading his troops around the paddock, the 2013 Premiers were able to cross for four tries in the opening half despite humid and hot conditions north of the border. Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston even commenting post-game that he hadn't seen the former NSW No.7 control a game like that in his career.
Pearce's combination with halves partner James Maloney looks to have only improved over the summer months with the pair linking well for two of last weekend's tries in the season-opener. However they will need to be on song once again this Sunday arvo as the Bunnies halves, Adam Reynolds and Luke Keary, also opened their season in style after also starring in the World Club Challenge.
With many also talking a potential Origin audition for Pearce and Reynolds, the injury to incumbent NSW No.6 Josh Reynolds last weekend has also opened discussion on a potential Blues battle between five-eighths Maloney and Keary.
In the middle of the field the action will be just as exciting too as the Roosters big boys Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dylan Napa and Sam Moa face-off with the Burgess brothers, Tom and George, and David Tyrrell.
The Roosters impressive stock of representitive players in the mid-field were a big factor in their Round 1 victory, setting up the platform for Pearce and Maloney to deliver on for their outside backs. The Bunnies big boys will however present a different challenge with the power and strength of the Burgess twins something almost uncompared in the NRL, however the Cowboys impressive international line-up in their front-row does allow for promise for the Roosters this Sunday.
Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, playing in his first match in the No.1 shirt since Anthony Minichiello's retirement, was impressive in the win in Round 1 but will this weekend need to take his game to a different level as he tests himself against the games best in Greg Inglis.
The Tricolours most capped player of all-time was also complementing in his appraisal of Tuivasa-Sheck's first outing in the role full-time.
"He was very good, I was very impressed," Minichiello said.
"He's still got a lot to learn and that's in no way a mark against him, especially when you look at last Saturday's performance. He's only going to get better and that's a great thing."
Speaking with media earlier in the week, Tuivasa-Sheck said he there was a lot of pressure in the role but he's enjoying his time at the back.
"I've got to control that line at the back," the Kiwi international said.
"It's been a good learning experience for me. It's been tough during the Pre-Season but I'm happy with the work I've put into the new role."
Asked what the biggest challenge so far had been, Tuivasa-Sheck said, "keeping my weight down has probably been the biggest challenge, in terms of being able to cover more kilometres through the game."
"I'm working closely with Anthony Minchiello too, both on and off the field, and he's been brilliant for me. I'm so fortunate to have him in my corner," Tuivasa-Sheck.
The match is the 211th meeting between the two Clubs and the 30th since the inception of the NRL in 1998. In the last five meetings between the two sides, the Roosters have won twice.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters
Sunday, March 15
Gates Open: 1.40pm
NYC Kick-Off: 1.45pm
NRL Kick-Off: 4:00pm
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