NRL Preview: Thompson to debut, Roosters start Hall & Sims boosts Dragons

As round nine of the 2020 NRL season approaches we preview each game over the course of the weekend.

Thursday, July 9

North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters (10:55am)

The Roosters will be kicking themselves after falling short in a golden point thriller to Melbourne last week. They were certainly at their dazzling best at times throughout the game and maybe even should have come away with the win, but Trent Robinson’s men made too many uncharacteristic errors which cost them. The Chooks now face a North Queensland side that has seen plenty of inconsistency as of late and just had no answer for the Eels’ offensive power. It does not get any easier either for Paul Green’s men as Sydney will no doubt be out for victory following a disappointing defeat.

Team news: Valentine Holmes moves onto the wing with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow being recalled at full-back for the Cowboys. Justin O’Neill’s injury means Connelly Lemuelu is also recalled.

Star duo Boyd Cornder (head knock) and Daniel Tupou (ankle) are both out for the Roosters with Ryan Hall making his way back into the starting 13 alongside Mitch Aubusson.

Friday, July 10

Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors (9am)

The Warriors produced a gritty and determined display against Brisbane last week, coming from 10-0 behind to win 26-16. They now sit with three wins and three losses since the resumption of the season. The Titans, meanwhile, were in a winnable situation last week against the Sharks, but a second half implosion meant that Cronulla would run in 40 points in total by the end of the game.

Team news: Erin Clark starts at hooker for the Titans as Mitch Rein (ankle) remains out. Corey Thompson returns at full-back and Treymain Spry makes his debut on the wing.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns from suspension for the Warriors while Kodi Nikorima (head knock) is replaced by Chanel Harris-Tavita at stand-off. Jazz Tevaga is back on the bench.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers (10:55am)

The Rabbitohs overcame a valiant effort from Canterbury in round eight but they sit in ninth place on the ladder as they have failed to get into top gear this season. They now face a Tigers side that sit just one place above them. The battle between the electric Damien Cook and the young sensation Harry Grant make the encounter all the more enticing.

Team news: The Rabbitohs are without Braidon Burns for the foreseeable future after the centre suffered a serious knee injury in the win over Canterbury last week.

Joey Leilua’s suspension means Michael Chee Kam slots in at centre while despite injury concerns Moses Mbye, Luciano Leilua and Sam McIntyre have all been named.

Saturday, July 11

Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers (6am)

The Sharks continued their recent hot streak on Saturday after claiming their third win in a row after a dominant win over Gold Coast. Over the last two games Cronulla have put up a combined 80 points after two consecutive 40-point performances with Shaun Johnson leading the way as he continues to be the key catalyst in a side that has creeped up the ladder to seventh in recent weeks. Penrith remain a strong entity this season with their own playmaker in Nathan Cleary pulling all the strings offensively.

Team news: With Matt Moylan (hamstring) out, Josh Dugan moves to full-back and Bryson Goodwin slots in at centre for Cronulla. Ronaldo Mulitalo returns from injury to take his place on the wing.

Brent Naden shifts to the wing and Dean Whare is in at centre with Brian To’o (ankle) out for Penrith.

Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs (8:30am)

The Broncos lost to the Warriors in disappointing fashion last week. The frustration and emotion was seen after the game as captain Alex Glenn and young Brodie Croft were visibly upset with what transpired. As for the Bulldogs, they sit last on the ladder but you wouldn’t believe it by the way they perform occasionally as they seem to keep making a habit out of putting forth valiant efforts in games but in the end failing to come away with a win.

Team news: Anthony Seibold picks the same 17 that lost to the Warriors. A few adjustments see Corey Oates in the back-row and Tevita Pangai Junior moving to prop. Kotoni Staggs (hamstring) is on the reserves for now.

Adam Elliott (shoulder) sits out, with Luke Thompson making NRL debut after being selected at loose forward.

Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm (10:35am)

Even without Cameron Munster, the Storm still came away with an unbelievable victory over the Roosters and again showed their ability to grind out victories. They have another big test coming their way this week as they face a Canberra side that have struggled against in recent times. The Raiders come into this one after what ended up being a hard fought victory over the Dragons. For the majority of the game Ricky Stuart’s men seemed to be coasting to a comfortable win but an uncharacteristic lapse in defence allowed St George Illawarra to run in three late tries to reduce the deficit to just six points. The Raiders may have recent history on their side against Melbourne but if they want to continue that then there cannot be any drops in concentration.

Team news: Emre Guler (ankle) and Sia Soliola (facial fracture) are both out for Canberra with Dunamis Lui at prop and Kai O’Donnell set to make his debut off the bench. Ryan Sutton and Jordan Rapana move to the interchange bench.

Ryley Jacks has been named to start at stand-off for the Storm, but Munster has been named on the extended bench. Marion Seve replaces the injured Suliasi Vunivalu (hamstring).

Sunday, July 12

Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels (7:05am)

Well even without Mitch Moses, the Eels still proved to be a force last week with a comprehensive win over North Queensland. There may have been no Moses but the likes of Clint Gutherson and Maika Sivo ran the show for Parramatta as they solidified their spot at the top of the ladder. Now, in what promises to be one of the games of the round, they are set to go up against Newcastle who kept their place within the top four after a win over Manly in round eight. However, the Knights still look like a finals team this year and it will be interesting to see how the Eels can nullify the effects of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga.

Team news: Tex Hoy replaces the injured Edrick Lee (broken arm) on the wing for Newcastle and Aidan Guerra starts in the back-row with Sione Mata’utia out (head knock).

Stefano Utoikamanu is set to make his debut off the Parramatta bench while Nathan Brown returns from suspension at lock.

St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles (9:30am)

The Dragons showed some attacking qualities towards the end of the game against Canberra to score three tries, but it was a case of too little too late as Paul McGregor’s men succumbed to their second straight loss. They will have to bring some of that late game spirit here though as they take on Manly who still continue to feel the effects of losing Tom Trbojevic.

Team news: A boost for the Dragons sees Tariq Sims (wrist) return in the second-row while Jordan Pereira is back on the wing, with Jason Saab dropping into the reserves.

Addin Fonua-Blake’s suspension means Taniela Paseka starts at prop for Manly.

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