With the NRL finals fast approaching there is a lot on the line when the Sydney Roosters take on the Brisbane Broncos in the opening game of round 21 on Thursday night.
There are just five rounds of the regular season remaining and every game is crucial as the Roosters look to secure a place in the eight, while the Broncos have set their sights on the top four.
It is tight as can be with just four points separating third and seventh on the ladder.
The Roosters are holding eighth spot at the moment but they have the Manly Sea Eagles, Canberra Raiders and St George Illawarra Dragons breathing down their neck.
Taking all that into consideration it is a huge game at the SCG and it’s tough to predict which way it will go when the pressure is on.
One thing is certain, it has all the ingredients to be a cracker of a game so let’s take a closer look at both sides as kick-off fast approaches.
What: Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos
Where: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
When: 19:50 (AEST) Thursday 4th August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Roosters 27/50, Broncos 6/4
The Sydney Roosters have not missed out on finals in years, but they are in real danger of doing so this season unless they can keep their good run of form going.
The good news for the Tricolours is it remains in their own hands for now at least. They are also bang in form after winning their last three games so confidence should be sky high heading into the Broncos clash.
Their wins have come against the Dragons, Knights and Sea Eagles, while in the two games before they ran both Parramatta and Penrith close.
So Trent Robinson’s side are clearly in good touch but they will face a tough test against a Broncos side that will be itching to get back out there following a shock defeat against Wests Tigers last weekend.
Despite a 20-10 win over a depleted Manly side last week, Robinson admitted he was not completely happy with his side’s attack. The coach felt everything was a little bit rushed as they produced 18 errors.
More composure will be be needed against the Broncos. They can however take heart from the fact they are breaking more tackles than any other side in the competition at the moment.
They are averaging 34, with James Tedesco and Joey Manu the stars of the show and they will be hoping for much of the same.
The Roosters have been rocked by the news they will be missing key forwards Lindsay Collins (concussion) and Egan Butcher (suspension).
It means new arrival Matt Lodge from the Warriors will get a place in the starting line-up. Terrell May and Ben Thomas return to the bench.
The Broncos have been outstanding all season but will be licking their wounds after suffering a shock defeat against the Wests Tigers last weekend.
The week before that they smashed the Parramatta Eels and looked one of the hot fancies to secure a spot in the top four. Now they have work to do.
They are level on 26 points with the Storm who are in fourth spot and the Eels who are in sixth. South Sydney Rabbitohs are just two points behind in seventh so it could not be much tighter.
Kevin Walters’ side won the corresponding fixture 34-16 in 2021 and could do with something similar to get back on track.
Their run home could be tricky also. Next up is a clash with the struggling Newcastle Knights but the remaining three games see them up against the Storm, Eels and Dragons.
Like the Roosters, the Broncos have been impressive when it comes to breaking tackles this season, averaging just under 32 a game. So it should be an interesting match-up when the two sides clash on Thursday night.
The Broncos have been hit by the news that star Origin lock Pat Carrigan will be missing for the next four games, starting on Thursday night.
Carrigan was handed the suspension by the judiciary following his hip-drop tackle on Tigers ace Jackson Hastings last weekend.
It is not all bad news though as they will welcome back gun winger Selwyn Cobbo who has finally recovered from concussion and will take his place in the side.