This top-four clash is missing a little of its entertainment factor now that Canberra's English enforcer John Bateman is out with a fractured eye socket.
Then again, Latrell Mitchell will be there and he rattled off 26 points from a hat-trick and seven goals in the Roosters 42-12 demolition of the Wests Tigers at the SCG last weekend. So as long as he has the ball in hand the punters will get a show.
And with Canberra's Jarrod Croker leading the NRL points race, second rower Elliott Whitehead topping the intercepts and fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad having the most run metres, the Raiders can light up a stadium themselves.
Roosters: The Roosters will start 1-17 with Lindsay Collins and Sam Verrills the last two to be dropped from the bench. Matt Ikuvalu returns on the wing, with Joseph Manu shifting back to centre and the ever-reliable Mitch Aubusson moving back to the bench. Lachlan Lam and Josh Curran were cut from the initial 21-man squad on Saturday.
Raiders: The Raiders will start 1-17 after Aidan Sezer and Emre Guler were omitted 60 minutes before game time. Hudson Young will fill the shoes of injured Englishman John Bateman, who looks set to miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured eye socket. The other change to the side which beat Penrith in Wagga Wagga is the return of Jordan Rapana (ribs) on the wing, with Bailey Simonsson moving to the bench. Jack Murchie and Royce Hunt were cut from the squad on Saturday.
The 85kg, 179cm frame of Luke Keary - a two-time premiership winner at five-eighth - taking on the 95kg, 189cm frame of Jack Wighton, who is a newbie to this No.6 caper. Wighton is a powerful runner and has scored three tries to Keary's one but the Roosters half is all over him in try assists, forced drop-outs and line-break assists.
For the Roosters to win
Just keep engaging the team's three leading try scorers in Mitchell (6), Daniel Tupou (5) and James Tedesco (5) in any attacking raid.This trio ran more than 200 metres each against the Wests Tigers. Back in the engine room prop Sio Taukeiaho keeps things purring nicely. For his 46 minutes on the SCG last weekend, he made 155 metres and 71 post-contact metres, no matter how many defenders were hanging off him.
For the Raiders to win
Play like they did for the 54 minutes Bateman wasn't on the field in Wagga Wagga last week, due to his facial injury. The Raiders are second, to the Rabbitohs, in the amount of possession they rack up and lead the NRL in dummy-half runs. Their forward pack are committed and cunning and well-managed by No.9 Josh Hodgson.
Brett Kimmorley says
Disappointing news with John Bateman being out. But Josh Hodgson is playing well, Jack Wighton is turning into a running, ball-playing five-eighth and they have tough forwards. I think they’ll challenge the Roosters. Latrell Mitchell was unbelievable last weekend and Luke Keary can continue to put pressure on Brad Fittler to pick him for Origin. Roosters by 6
The Raiders surprisingly are the worst in the NRL in conceding penalties, but the Roosters are second, to the Eels, in the number of handling errors. It sounds like it could be a stop-start kind of game but with the likes of Nic Cotric, Nicoll-Klokstad, Tupou and Mitchell on the field, that ain't going to happen.
And another thing ...
The man who has played in eight NRL grand finals, winning three with two different clubs - Cooper Cronk - will surpass the man who has won four premierships with the same club - Darren Lockyer. The former Broncos skipper finished his NRL career on 355 games and Cronk plays his 356th in this round. There is only one man out in front now: Cameron Smith playing his 393rd this weekend.