NRL Round 10 – Match 4 Preview: Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights

On Saturday night at Bluetongue Stadium the Roosters host the Knights, both teams coming off the back of disappointing home ground losses in Round 9.

Neither team had a bye last week and in this way and many others these two are very evenly matched. This is why Ladbrokes.com.au have both the Roosters and the Knights at $1.90, one of the most difficult games of the Heritage Round to pick.

However despite both teams having played in Round 9, Sydney have had a shorter turn around after having played on Monday night. Also the Roosters will have five of their instrumental players, including Todd Carney, playing in their third match in eight days after rep duties last Friday night so they may be a little weary.

It was a high-scoring match against the Titans for Newcastle last week when they lost by just two, while the Roosters outfit was unimpressive going down 14 – 32 to the Cowboys.

Still, Sydney have been able to rack up more wins than the Knights this season, the Chooks at number eight on the ladder with five wins while Newcastle struggle away down in the number 12 spot with just three victories.

There is a very interesting little trend we have discovered with Sydney too, which is leaning us towards them this week.

Since their two early wins in rounds one and two this year, the Roosters have consistently lost one than won one over the past eight weeks. Last week they lost to the Cowboys and so the win/loss record says they will come away with a victory this time.

It is not just a somewhat freakish trend that has us backing tri-colours on Saturday, it is also that the calibre of the teams they have been able to beat this year has been of a higher standard than those the Knights have claimed victory against.

There are of course other trends that suggest a Knights win, such as the fact that in all three Sydney v Newcastle games played at Bluetongue, the Knights have been triumphant.

While Sydney may feel the strain of last week’s rep footy, the Knights are also weakened as Jarrod Mullen is out with an ankle injury. But with talent like Cooper Vuna and Akuila Uate Newcastle still have plenty of speed out wide and the Roosters will have to get on top of this if they want to win.

The Roosters are trained by Brian Smith, who was sacked by Newcastle last year, and this is the first time he will come up against his old club. He will have trained Sydney to the point of exhaustion then for this one, not wanting to be embarrassed again.

But this does work both ways as we are sure there are a number of Knights keen to show their old coach what he is missing.

There are plenty of teams on the brink of taking Sydney’s position in the top eight away from them and so all the Chooks know how important it is to win this one.

If Carney and the rest of the Roosters can attack the Knights soft defence and let kicks play a big role this game, then we think Sydney can stay in the top eight. But it is going to be tough and the Chooks have to make sure that they don’t let Newcastle, who have been full of pace early on, get too much of a head start.

Current Head-to-Head Odds: Roosters $1.90 – Knights $1.90 Ladbrokes.com.au

Round 10 Roosters Team:

1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Phil Graham 3. Ben Jones 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Sam Perrett 6. Braith Anasta (c) 7. Todd Carney 8. Jason Ryles 9. James Aubusson 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 11. Nate Myles 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Frank Paul Nuuausala

Bench: 14. Daniel Conn 15. Lopini Paea 16. Jake Friend 17. Nick Kouparitsas

Round 10 Knights Team:

1. Kurt Gidley (c) 2. Akuila Uate 3. Junior Sa’u 4. Keith Luila 5. Cooper Vuna 6. Ben Rogers 7. Scott Dureau 8. Ben Cross 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Dan Tolar 11. Steve Simpson 12. Cory Paterson 13. Mark Taufua

Bench: 14. Matt Hilder 15. Cameron Ciraldo 16. Richie Fa’aoso 17. Evarn Tuimavave