Can Freddy Fittler continue his magical coaching run? Will his players continue to respond and believe they can topple the might of the Melbourne Storm? It makes for great theatre and with the match being played in Sydney, if the Roosters get a positive start – then they are a chance to certainly compete with the form side of the NRL. Last week the Sharks and Broncos proved how lowly rated teams can still have a chance of winning, with possession, discipline and some luck – allowing any given NRL team on their day to compete closely in a contest.
Referee Sean Hampstead’s style will probably suit the free flowing game of the Melbourne Storm, however their continued winning streak must be unsettling nerves in the Storm camp – with similarities to last years run.
The Roosters has a good head to head stat with 7 wins over the Storm and 8 wins for Melbourne.
2007 form for both teams is as follows; with the Storm only dropping 2 matches all season.
The Storm continue to have the ability to win even with several key players missing and as those players start to return to the squad, they are looking extremely formidable.
Individual player contests:
The combination of Craig Wing and Braith Anasta in the halves has seen the Roosters look much more structured and is working better than previous combinations earlier in 2007, however their opponents in Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis will be tough to match. Cronk and Inglis are young and daring – it will be an interesting match-up with the hold stagers of Wing and Anasta.
Both teams have impressive backs rows in Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon and Ashley Harrison (along with Nate Myles on the bench) for Sydney City up against the Storm’s Origin backrowers Ryan Hoffman and Dallas Johnson.
Lopini Paea has easily been the Roosters best forward – piercing the line at will and earning a starting spot under Fittler and match-up with Ben Cross and Brett White should be a cracker.
The worries for the Roosters will be in the outside backs where their slightly in-experienced members face the quality of Geyer, King, Turner, Folau and Slater.
Fittler has settled the halves problem with the experience of Wing and Anasta – giving the Roosters much more direction, however its the passion and enthusiasm that has lifted the Sydney City club to the two previous wins.
Fittler and his squad know that if they can take down the no.1 side in the NRL in Melbourne – then both players and coach will received the kudos they crave.
Fittlers use of the interchange has been impressive so far – with bench players getting into the action much earlier than under Anderson. Myles, Nutley and Sa having key roles in the game from the bench tonight.
Cameron Smith is the overall key to this match – if the Roosters can nullify the best hooker in th world; they will be well on their way to winning this one.