Schick Hydro Preview: Roosters v Sea Eagles
Two of the best performers from Round 4 renew hostilities in Sydney's battle of the beaches.
If you live in the eastern suburbs, Bondi is the summer spot for you. But those on the other side of the Harbour Bridge will tell you Manly is Sydney's premier location for a dip, some fish and more than a few chips.
Sydney's inclement weather has rendered the beach debate useless, so our focus switches to the footy field where the Roosters and Sea Eagles will duke it out for early season bragging rights.
There will be plenty of feeling between the traditional rivals, with Jackson Hastings set to come up against his former side for the first time, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will be sure to get up close and personal with former NYC teammate Daly Cherry-Evans.
The Roosters head into Round 5 on top of the ladder but the Sea Eagles have been the form side in recent weeks courtesy of huge wins over the Cowboys and Bulldogs.
Very little separates the sides in attack (17 tries apiece) and defence (both teams have conceded 10 tries), while the Roosters hold a slender advantage in offloads (41-40).
There is little wonder why there is plenty of hype surrounding the 2013 grand final rematch.
The Roosters welcome back co-captain Jake Friend (facial injury) which pushes Paul Carter back to an extended bench alongside Blake Ferguson and Kane Evans.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has named the same 17 that thrashed the Bulldogs.
Why the Roosters can win: Latrell Mitchell's move to the centres was meant to be a work in progress.
If that's the case, then just imagine what the finished product will look like.
The 19-year-old has made a mockery of those who doubted his switch to the three-quarter line, with Mitchell leading the NRL with five tries through four rounds.
His combination with Daniel Tupou on the left edge has been electric, with the pair combining like a duo who have played together for years.
Manly's right edge of Akuila Uate and Dylan Walker have been susceptible at times in defence with the winger often running in when he shouldn't.
They will need to be in sync if Mitchell is given early ball on Friday night.
Why the Sea Eagles can win: Written off by many after two rounds, all it took was a 40/20 against the Cowboys for Daly Cherry-Evans to roar back into form.
The Sea Eagles halfback has been the best No.7 in the competition in recent weeks and leads the NRL with seven try assists after he set up five in the huge win over Canterbury.
His short kicking game has gone up a level, with DCE creating three tries on Saturday with deft grubbers – two of those with his non-preferred foot.
Cherry-Evans has performed well against the Roosters in the past and was named Clive Churchill medallist in a losing side in 2013.
PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD | LATRELL MITCHELL V DYLAN WALKER
5 | TRIES | 1
3 | LINE BREAKS | 0
351 | ALL RUN METRES | 425
35 | TACKLES | 46
The history: Played 128; Roosters 44: Sea Eagles 82; Drawn 2.
The recent history between these sides has been very streaky.
Manly won four on the trot in 2011 and 2012 before the Roosters responded with four narrow wins in 2013, including the grand final.
The Sea Eagles have won three of the past four meetings, including a 22-20 triumph in their only meeting last season.
Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant referee: Chris Butler. Sideline officials: Nick Beashel and Tim Roby.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 5:30pm.
NRL.com predicts: There's a lot to like about both these sides after the opening month of the season, and you could easily make a case for either of them to get the two competition points on Friday.
However, the Roosters are yet to put a foot wrong in 2017, and until they do, there's no reason to back against them.
Roosters by 12.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM