Magic Round returns to the NRL as the Sydney Roosters travel up to Brisbane to take on the North Queensland Cowboys in the main event on Saturday night in what is shaping up to be an old-fashioned saloon showdown.
Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs North Queensland Cowboys
The Roosters hold a strong record against the Cowboys, winning 27 of the 38 clashes (71%) played between the two clubs since North Queensland entered the competition in 1995.
Magic Round will mark the 39th clash between the sides, and the first in Brisbane, with all prior matches being played in either Sydney, Townsville, Darwin or Gosford.
The Tricolours claimed a commanding 42-16 victory in the last contest with the Cowboys, however, the results have been fairly evenly matched over the past decade, with the Roosters winning three of the last five matches and six of the last ten.
Our opponents have been in a rich vein of form, bouncing back from a 0-4 start to the season to win four of their last five matches, which includes a one-point thriller against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last week, so the Roosters will certainly have their hands full in this one.
How They Line Up
Trent Robinson welcomes back five-eighth Lachlan Lam and second rower Sitili Tupouniua, who have both been named in the starting side.
The Roosters backline remains intact from last week, headed by captain James Tedesco and featuring Daniel Tupou, Josh Morris, Joseph Manu and Matt Ikuvalu.
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Valentine Holmes
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh MorrisCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Javid Bowen
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph ManuCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Matt IkuvaluWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Lachlan LamFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Sam WalkerHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Cowboys is number 8 Coen Hess
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Ben MarschkeHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Adam KeighranInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Daniel Suluka-FifitaInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Lachlan Burr
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Nat ButcherInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Francis Molo
Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua TaukeiahoInterchange for Cowboys is number 20 Tom Gilbert
Reserve for Roosters is number 21 Joseph SuaaliiReserve for Cowboys is number 17 Ben Condon
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara
Halfback Sam Walker lines up alongside Lam for the first time, while Isaac Liu, Ben Marschke and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves make up the front row once again.
Victor Radley has passed his HIA protocols, taking his place alongside Tupouniua and Angus Crichton at the back of the scrum.
Adam Keighran, Daniel Suluka-Fifita, Nat Butcher and Siosiua Taukeiaho have been named on the interchange bench, while Naufahu Whyte, Tuku Hau Tapuha, Egan Butcher and Joseph Suaalii round off the extended bench.
For the Cowboys, the likes of Valentine Holmes, Kyle Feldt, Scott Drinkwater and Jason Taumalolo all loom as threats, with Holmes and Taumalolo sealing last week's match for the Cowboys with a field goal and try respectively in the dying stages.
Key Matchup: Daniel Tupou vs Kyle Feldt
The two wingers with the best aerial skills in the game will meet as Daniel Tupou and Kyle Feldt face off in what is an intriguing match-up.
Both acrobatic in the air, Tupou and Feldt are two wingers that have experience, Premiership rings and are fan favourites for their respective clubs.
So far in 2021, Tupou has trumped Feldt in average run metres (189 to 121) and linebreaks (6 to 2) while the pair are tied for tries scored with a treble each.
It is important, however, to note that Tupou has also played more games than Feldt so far (9 to 7), but there's no doubt that both wingmen have been in top form, particularly over the last month.
While there is plenty of talent on show for both teams, make sure to keep an eye on the Roosters' left side as these two flyers line up on Saturday night.
What They Said
"We know that whoever is going to come into our team is going to do a good job for us and there’s no excuses. Yes, we have lost a lot of guys to injuries but we haven’t looked back on that, we’re taking it week to week." - James Tedesco
"I’m grateful to be wearing the no.9 and I take pride in that each week when I go out there. I’ve got pretty big shoes to fill with Sammy and Friendy going so I’m just looking to do my best." - Ben Marschke
"It’s about us continuing to play with the spirit we’ve been playing with and then layering on better decisions and more quality week-on-week. We want to continue to see that on Saturday." - Trent Robinson
While history has favoured the Roosters, our opponents this week will be riding a wave of momentum into Brisbane, but if there's anything you can guarantee, it's that the boys from Bondi will be up for the fight.
Make sure you grab your tickets here, and if you can't make the game be sure to head down to Artie's to watch the boys in Red, White and Blue do battle in what will be another thriller!