THE Sydney Roosters have a prime opportunity to face-off against the Melbourne Storm in next week’s grand final. Only North Queensland stands in their way.
The Cowboys have risen out of a spell of bad luck which saw star playmaker Johnathan Thurston out of the side, but a home crowd for the Roosters will be a lot to overcome in tonight’s second preliminary final.
If last night’s match is anything to go by, the winner of this match will have a mammoth task on their hands next weekend.
Star Cowboys finisher Kyle Feldt has been spotted limping early in the second preliminary final after carrying a leg injury into the game.
It didn’t appear to impact the Cowboys with star playmaker Michael Morgan giving his side an early sniff of first points with a 40-20 kick.
A Te Maire Martin handling error was all that stood between the Cows and first points.
It left the scores unchanged at 0-0 after eight minutes.
Cowboys rule out Scott, Roosters make big change
The Roosters have made a couple of last-minute changes with star centre Latrell Mitchell moving to the wing in a major overhaul of the team’s left edge.
With Mitchell moving to the wing, Daniel Tupou has been demoted to the bench and Ryan Matterson has been brought into the starting side in the centres.
Matt Scott’s return from a knee injury has been put on hold, with the prop not included in North Queensland’s team for their NRL preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.
The co-captain hasn’t played since suffering a season-long anterior cruciate ligament injury in round three, but had been named earlier this week in the Cowboys’ No. 21 jersey for Saturday night’s clash at Allianz Stadium.
The Cowboys will stick with their original 17, with Coen Hess (knee), John Asiata (hand), Antonio Winterstein (ribs) and Te Maire Martin (shoulder) all overcoming injuries to play.
Coach Paul Green told Channel 9, Scott would have been close to getting selected if his team had suffered an injury against the Eels last week.
Hear from Paul Green before #NRLRoostersCowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL pic.twitter.com/IZoRdWbv8v— NRL (@NRL) September 23, 2017
Freak Gordon kicks Sydney to finals
What’s the difference between a wayward goalkicker and a straight shooter like Michael Gordon sending over conversions at your NRL club?
According to the Sydney Roosters’ season, it could be as significant as another year in the doldrums or being just one win away from the grand final. Labelling Gordon the Roosters’ saviour of 2017 might seem extreme, but consider his impact on their ladder position.
In six regular-season games this year, the Roosters scored the same amount or less of tries than their opponents but still won, on the back of Gordon’s accurate boot.
Just once, against the Warriors in round nine, Gordon’s kicking cost the Roosters victory.
Even allowing for that, Gordon’s sharp shooting alone has been worth a net profit of five wins, or 10 points on the ladder.
In simple terms, it’s the difference between finishing second and playing in Saturday night’s preliminary final against North Queensland, or missing the finals altogether on 28 points.
“That’s my job here,” Gordon said.
“If I’m not kicking well then we’re obviously lower down the table. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in.” Goal-kicking again proved vital in their tight qualifying-final win over Brisbane, and this season has left the veteran feeling like he can nail them from anywhere at any time as he bids for his first title.
“Having had a few of them games when the kick had to really count — when you do get them it helps lift your confidence,” Gordon said.
“Then if you get in another situation you think: ‘Well I’ve been here and done it.’ “You’ve just got to back what you’ve been doing and trust in the process. “I know I’ve kicked a million kicks in my life and I know I can kick them from anywhere.” Gordon’s kicking improved dramatically on Jason Taylor’s arrival as an assistant coach in round 10.
Continuing to work alongside long-time mentor Darryl Halligan, Gordon has kicked at 85 per cent since Taylor’s arrival and he has missed more than one goal in a match just once.
“I’m lucky in that I have two of the most prolific pointscorers of all time helping me out,” Gordon said.
“We haven’t changed anything I do. It’s more about worrying about going into the ball instead of what’s going on after.”
ROOSTERS GAMES WON BY GORDON’S BOOT
— Rd 2: beat Canterbury 28-24 (Gordon: 4/6, Moses Mbye: 2/5)
— Rd 13: beat Brisbane 18-16 (Gordon: 3/3, Jordan Kahu: 2/3)
— Rd 16: beat Melbourne 25-24 (Gordon: 4/4, Cameron Munster: 2/5)
— Rd 18: beat South Sydney 14-12 (Gordon: 3/3, Adam Reynolds: 2/2)
— Rd 25: beat Cronulla 16-14 (Gordon: 4/5, James Maloney: 3/3)
— Rd 26: beat Gold Coast 20-16 (Gordon: 4/4, Ash Taylor: 2/3)
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