It’s Round 18 of the Telstra Premiership and the Roosters are fresh after the final Bye week of the Season. In this round we’ll head to Penrith to take on an in-form Panthers outfit, who have won their last two games.

Heading into the break, the Roosters won four of their last five matches, giving them plenty of momentum heading into the Bye and breaking back into the top four. The Panthers have had a tough run with injuries of late, but have found their feet in 2015 after back-to-back dominant wins over the Wests Tigers and Rabbitohs.

Key Match-Ups:

Former Blues halves: Since Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns retired from Rugby League over ten years ago, the Blues have struggled to find a consistent halves pairing.
What makes this Saturday so interesting, is that James Maloney and Jamie Soward have both played in the number six jersey for the Blues for one three game series.
Peter Wallace has also worn a Blues jersey in his career, while Mitchell Pearce is a current Blues half. There is plenty of rivalry to be had in the play making department this weekend at Penrith.

Centre Piece: Provided he’s fit to back up from Origin on Wednesday night, Michael Jennings will be heading to his old stomping ground. On this particular occasion, his opposing centre is Dean Whare.

The interesting thing about this battle is that they have both worn a Penrith Jersey, but never at the same time. Michael Jennings departed Penrith at the end of the 2012 season, and Dean Whare took his spot when he came to the Club in 2013.

Since that time, the centres have also gone head-to-head in International jerseys, with Whare lining up for the Kiwis and Jennings for the Kangaroos. So what makes this battle so mouth-watering? Jennings and Whare have never been on the same side of the fence, and nothing changes this weekend.

Verdict:

The danger zone for the Roosters in this one is they’re against a team that are on a role.
Does that make it an impossible task? Absolutely not, but it definitely makes it a big ask.
The Roosters will need to be all hands on deck this weekend, as they attempt to make it four in a row.

As we approach the business end of the year with a fully fit roster, there is no better time for the boys to take a dominant approach to their games.
A top four finish is well-within reach – and such a bonus come finals time – and the team will be keen to build momentum as we head into the back end of the season.