Roosters v Cowboys
The semi-finals are here, and while the Rabbitohs earned themselves a week off after defeating Manly in week one, all red and green eyes will be firmly fixed on Friday night’s clash between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys – the victor set to meet the Rabbitohs on the 26th of September at ANZ Stadium in the Preliminary Final.
For the minor premiership winning Roosters, it’s all about defending their 2013 title, while the Cowboys will be looking to keep their season alive in the hope of eventually landing themselves a second-ever appearance in the decider.
The Roosters will be in prime position to take the match, with key players returning from injury and suspension.
After going down to the Penrith Panthers in a week one thriller, the Tricolours will be bolstered by the return of hooker Jake Friend, with Mitch Aubusson set to return to the bench after deputising in Friend’s absence against both the Rabbitohs and the Panthers in recent weeks. The return of Friend will no doubt be a massive shot in the arm for the Chooks, who will again stand to benefit from Friend’s opportunism and service from dummy half.
Throw in the return of Lock-forward Aiden Guerra, fresh from serving a one-match suspension for dangerous contact on Kyle Turner in round 26, and the side’s forward pack will be a vastly different beast to the one that went down to the Panthers by a single point last week.
The Cowboys earned their place in week two after knocking out the Brisbane Broncos last weekend, with Johnathan Thurston again playing a starring role.
However, despite the solid performance from the Cowboys in dispatching their fellow state rivals in week one, the side will be without Tariq Sims after the forward was rubbed out for five matches by the match-review committee in a drama-filled week for the club. Glenn Hall will move into the North Queensland starting side to replace Sims.
Last Time They Met
The Roosters and the Cowboys last met in round 10 of the 2014 season, with the only encounter between the sides this year resulting in a 42-10 victory to the Cowboys in Townsville.
Without the services of halfback Mitchell Pearce, a re-shuffle saw Sonny Bill Williams shift to five-eighth while James Maloney took over at halfback. Meanwhile, the Cowboys had plenty to play for as Johnathan Thurston prepared to play his 200th Cowboys game.
The Cowboys burst out of the blocks and never looked in any danger, as Kane Linnett managed a hat-trick of tries in a seven try to two effort – Johnathan Thurston kicking seven goals from nine attempts to take the competition points.
Against the Rabbitohs in 2014
Roosters – The Rabbitohs and the Roosters book-ended the 2014 season with clashes in round one and round 26, with the ledger standing at one win apiece – the Rabbitohs winning the Ron Coote Cup on aggregate. The first clash at ANZ Stadium saw the Rabbitohs emerge triumphant by 28-8 with Greg Inglis scoring a hat-trick to open the season, while the round 26 clash yielded a points decision to the Roosters by 22-18.
Cowboys – The Rabbitohs and the Cowboys met twice during the 2014 season with little going the way of the red and greens in rounds 16 and 24. In round 16, the Rabbitohs made the trip to Townsville only to come away with a 20-18 loss, while the round 24 clash saw Souths again go down, this time by 22-10.