Match Preview | Qualifying Finals
After 26 Rounds of NRL football, another regular season ends and a whole new competition begins.
While eight teams are left to wonder what went wrong, another eight move on for the chance of holding the infamous Premiership Trophy above their head on the first Sunday of October.
On the back of their third consecutive Minor Premiership, the Roosters will claim the top spot for a home final against the Melbourne Storm.
The regular season series between these two clubs is split at one a piece, in a game that the Roosters lost by 1 point and another that was won convincingly.
Is it going to be another convincing performance, or another 1 point thriller?
A blockbuster awaits this Friday night, and the Roosters have got a big job to do.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck | Cameron Munster
2. Daniel Tupou | Marika Koroibete
3. Michael Jennings | Will Chambers
4. Blake Ferguson | Kurt Mann
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall | Matt Duffie
6. James Maloney | Blake Green
7. Jackson Hastings | Cooper Cronk
8. Sam Moa | Jesse Bromwich
9. Jake Friend | Cameron Smith
10. Dylan Napa | Tim Glasby
11. Boyd Cordner | Kevin Proctor
12. Aidan Guerra | Tohu Harris
13. Sio Siua Taukeiaho | Ryan Hinchcliffe
14. Mitchell Aubusson | Kenneath Bromwich
15. Isaac Liu | Christian Welch Nichol
16. Kane Evans | Nelson Asofa-Solomona
17. Suaia Matagi | Jordan McLean
18. Matt McIlwrick
The Centre Piece: When it comes to the better centres in the competition, you’d be ungenerous if you didn’t mention Michael Jennings and Will Chambers in the conversation.
Chambers had an extremely successful State of Origin series this year, he played great and his side reclaimed the shield.
Jennings was his usual self, but his side suffered a heartbreaking blow-out loss in the third game.
Though this game won’t be about revenge for Jennings, it should allow an Origin style intensity to this classic match-up.
Big Shoes: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is not a player you can replace.
Though his energy and passion are hard to match, there is one player that is always up to it and that’s Sam Moa.
After returning from injury just two weeks ago, Moa is back to his barnstorming best, having a sensational outing against the Rabbitohs on Friday night.
It’s a different demon altogether this weekend though, as he lines up against (arguably) one of the best props in the game in Jesse Bromwich.
Bromwich is a barnstorming forward, with the power of a forward and the ball skills of a half.
Moa will have his hands full, and will need to be switched on if he’s going to shut him down.
O Captain! My Captain: It’s a battle of the Captains this Friday, and both wear a number 9 jersey.
Two Queenslanders, two hookers, both loyal clubmen and both in tremendous form.
When the Australian and Maroons Captain Cameron Smith retires from his representative honours, you’d have to come close to imagining that Jake Friend is the heir to the throne.
That aside though, there will be no keys to the kingdom or favours handed out on Friday night, not by the Storm skipper anyway.
Smith is competitive, smart with the ball and is the most dangerous player out of dummy-half.
Friend is an A+ defender, quick out of dummy-half and has great vision in attack.
If this match-up doesn’t make your mouth water, there’s a good chance you don’t like football.
At Allianz | Roosters- 8 | Storm- 3
2015. Roosters DEF Storm 24-2 at Allianz Stadium
2015. Storm DEF Roosters 17-16 at AAMI Park
2014. Roosters DEF Storm 24-12 at Allianz Stadium
2014. Roosters DEF Storm 32-12 at AAMI Park
2013. Storm DEF Roosters 26-18 at Allianz Stadium
There is plenty to love about this game, but there is also plenty to be nervous about.
The Storm are in great form, with recent wins over the Sharks, Cowboys and Broncos, all of which are near the top of the ladder.
Not to mention, this team love finals, and their key men have plenty of experience at this level.
Though the Roosters are entering their third finals series in a row, the Storm are a team that demand respect.
As long as the forwards keep running hard, Jackson Hastings and James Maloney are in sync, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck makes plenty of ground coming out of his own end, a good platform will be laid for what is undoubtedly going to be an exceptional game of football.