Chooks Starting To Crow

James Maloney - Sydney Roosters
James Maloney is once again one of the reasons for the Roosters recent success. Picture: Gregg Porteous/dailytelegraph.com.au

Newcastle Knights Logo


Knights v Roosters


Hunter Stadium

Friday July 25 – 7:45 PM (AEST)

Form:


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Sydney Roosters Logo


Last week, the Sydney Roosters proved they are ready to go back-to-back this year. Up against the competition dark horses, the Penrith Panthers, they were clinical. In both attack and defence, they took the Panthers to school, and came out on top. It is good news for the Chooks, who face the luckless Newcastle Knights on Friday night. Last Sunday, Newcastle was supposed to “Rise for Alex”,  and while they did off the field, they couldn't find their groove with the ball and their defensive line was constantly penetrated.

Anyone that says that Sonny Bill Williams isn’t a superstar is crazy. The man has won two NRL Premierships, a Super Rugby Trophy, a Bledisloe Cup and a Rugby World Cup. While those feats are impressive on their own, he has also achieved all this while staying true to his faith. He converted to Islam back in 2008, which requires him to fast during Ramadan. So he is achieving all these goals, while at times denying himself food and liquids. See, superstar. Coach Trent Robinson has named the same 17 which pummelled the Panthers last week, with a couple of tweaks. Nene Macdonald moves to the wing, Aiden Guerra to lock, Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the centres and Frank-Paul Nuuausala to the bench.

The only excuse for the Knights last Sunday - perhaps all the emotion surrounding the return of Alex Mackinnon to Hunter Stadium was too much for them. On a day where so much expectation was put on their shoulders, they just couldn’t rise to the occasion. They lacked aggression in attack, with Korbin Sims being the only one who ran with any mongrel. In defence, they slid when they needed to plant their feet and planted their feet when they needed to slide. To add to a horrible day, news has surfaced that departing coach Wayne Bennett had breakfast with Broncos officials on match morning. How's that for a slap in the face! Kurt Gidley is out, with Tyrone Roberts replacing him at halfback. James McManus returns on the wing, with Jake Mamo dropping out of the side and Travis Waddell added to the bench. With Darius Boyd dealing with personal issues right now, young gun Sione Mata'utia will make his debut for the club. This is a player Wayne Bennett has been excited about for a long time and he finally gets his opportunity on Friday night. 

The Knights need to give their fans something to cheer about. This year has been one to forget for the Novocastrians. It’s time to rebuild for 2015, and they have plenty of talent to do it. But unfortunately they come up against the Roosters, who are becoming the powerhouse they were last year. Look for the Chooks to win this one and comfortably.

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Toby's Tip: Roosters 13+

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