Round 25 of the NRL season gets underway on Thursday night as the Raiders take on the Roosters in the first marquee time-slot of the round. Check out our full preview and NRL tips for the round opening clash below.
Also if you prefer to digest your previews in podcast mode, join the NRL guru himself, Scooby, as he takes a close look at the Round 25 action:
BB Print Stadium, Mackay, Thursday 2nd August, 7.50pm (AEST)
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Harley Smith-Shields 3. Sebastian Kris 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Matt Frawley 8. Josh Papali'i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola 14. Emre Guler 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Siliva Havili 18. Sam Williams 19. Semi Valemei 20. Elijah Anderson 21. Trey Mooney
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Adam Keighran 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu 14. Sam Walker 15. Egan Butcher 16. Ben Marschke 17. Tukupa Hau Tapuha 18. Moala Graham-Taufa 19. Brad Abbey 20. Naufahu Whyte 21. Daniel Suluka-Fifita
The final make-up of the NRL’s top eight for 2021 could still have more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel starting with the Desperation Cup between Canberra and the Sydney Roosters in Mackay on Thursday night.
Who plays finals in September is still up in the air while positions within the top eight and who earns the double chance is also not settled heading into the last round of the home and away season.
And the clash between the Raiders and Roosters has enough permutations to give you a headache.
At this time of the year, a simple philosophy is to back which team most needs the win. Who wants it more?
Well, both teams have plenty to play for in the rugby league heartland of Mackay.
Let’s start with the Chooks who will be backing up from the very physical and highly emotional loss to the Rabbitohs when Latrell Mitchell almost decapitated Joey Manu to end the season for both men. The “Book of Feuds” has another chapter with the bitter post-match fallout still raging.
The Roosters are currently sixth on the ladder which is quite a feat in itself, given the number of injuries that have plagued Trent Robinson’s side this year.
If they lose to Canberra, the Roosters will stay in sixth and play Newcastle in a sudden-death final next weekend.
But a victory – and other results going their way - could catapult them into fourth or fifth. They basically need to win and hope Parramatta to lose to Penrith AND Manly fall to North Queensland to earn a double chance in the top four.
A win over Canberra and one of those results going their way will see them finish fifth.
The Roosters will welcome back star forwards Angus Crichton and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who both let rip at Mitchell from the sidelines last week after their former teammate smashed Manu with a disgraceful high shot and copped a six-week suspension.
Josh Morris and Adam Keighran will also return for the Roosters who have named teen sensation Sam Walker on the bench with Lachlan Lam taking over at halfback.
As for the Green Machine, they are currently ninth on the ladder but could finish eighth, ninth or 10th by the end of the weekend.
If they want to play finals, they simply must win. A loss to the Roosters ends their campaign unless they make-up 50 points in for-and-against on Cronulla – which is not realistically going to happen – and the Titans get beaten by New Zealand.
Even if they do get over the top of the Roosters, their season will be over if the Sharks beat Melbourne on Friday night as Cronulla has the superior for-and-against.
The Raiders will have fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad back in the starting side for the first side since he returned from injury with Jordan Rapana shifting back out to the wing with Bailey Simonsson out with a groin issue. Iosia Soliola has also been named at lock.
Clear as mud, right?
In what will be a tight and hard-fought contest, the Roosters may have just a little too much grunt up-front and a tad too much class out wide to get the win and keep them in the hunt for a top four finish while ending Canberra’s tilt.
They were angry after the loss to the Rabbitohs and the Raiders might be the ones that pay.
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