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The Roosters stayed on the Rabbitohs' heels in the race for second spot with last week's defeat of the Bulldogs.

Trent Robinson also received promising news on Jake Friend last week and expects the injured hooker to be back on deck in time for the finals.

The Chooks have a testing run home against the Raiders, Warriors, Dragons, Panthers and Rabbitohs.

Last week's loss to Brisbane left the Titans all alone in last spot and they are running out of chances to avoid the wooden spoon. If they do run last it will complete a horror 'trifecta' after they finished 15th in 2017 and 14th in 2018.

The Rundown

Team news

Roosters: Sydney are 1-17 with Matt Ikuvalu and Lachlan Lam the final cuts from the match-day squad. Nat Butcher continues to play with a rib complaint but returns after he was rested last week. Sam Verrills starts again at hooker after a late switch with Victor Radley last week. The Tricolours have won six of their past seven games against the Titans. Trent Robinson cut reserves Drew Hutchison and Max Bailey on Saturday.

Titans: Ash Taylor comes in for Tyrone Roberts at five-eighth after missing two months for personal reasons. Mitch Rein joins Roberts in dropping out of the match-day 17. Utilities Brenko Lee and Tyrone Peachey both retain their place on the bench. The Titans will play at the SCG for the first time in their history. Leilani Latu and Will Matthews dropped off the reserves list on Saturday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for Titans is number 1 Michael Gordon
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Titans is number 2 Anthony Don
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
    Centre for Titans is number 3 Kallum Watkins
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
    Centre for Titans is number 4 Brian Kelly
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
    Winger for Titans is number 5 Phillip Sami
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
    Five-Eighth for Titans is number 18 Ashley Taylor
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
    Halfback for Titans is number 7 Ryley Jacks

Forwards

  • Prop for Roosters is number 8 Isaac Liu
    Prop for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
    Hooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan Peats
  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Zane Tetevano
    Prop for Titans is number 10 Jack Stockwell
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
    2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
    2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Sam Stone
  • Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
    Lock for Titans is number 13 Jai Whitbread

Interchange

  • Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Nat Butcher
    Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tyrone Peachey
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Poasa Faamausili
    Interchange for Titans is number 15 Moeaki Fotuaika
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Lindsay Collins
    Interchange for Titans is number 16 Brenko Lee
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Sitili Tupouniua
    Interchange for Titans is number 17 Bryce Cartwright

Key match-up

Roosters hooker Sam Verrills is just five games into his NRL career but did a pretty decent impersonation of the man he's deputising for - Jake Friend - with an 80-minute performance against the Bulldogs in which he powered his way through 50 tackles. By contrast, Titans No.9 Nathan Peats is 147 games into his career and has played Origin. He's got the instincts of a natural rake and will look to gain an advantage for his team with his work at the play-the-ball.

For the Roosters to win

They should look to assert their authority from the get-go and sting the Titans in defence. If the premiers get an early lead the Titans might find it all a bit too hard to dig in. The Roosters should have far too much firepower all over the park for their opponents to handle.

For the Titans to win

It's a tough ask but it's not out of the question if they can put some dents in the defence, minimise errors and keep the Roosters turning around with a smart kicking game. Tyrone Roberts has to create scoring chances, while the likes of Kevin Proctor, Jarrod Wallace and Nathan Peats need to keep their less experienced teammates focused on the job.

Brett Kimmorley says

The Roosters were a bit clunky last week, this could be a bad day for the Titans. We’ve seen no response from them since the coach was sacked two weeks ago. Their inability to stay in the arm wrestle and not conceded easy tries hurts them. There may be injury and suspension problems for the Roosters but they still have plenty of class. Roosters by 14

Stat Attack

Don't push a pass around Roosters centre Joseph Manu. The Kiwi international is ranked equal first for intercepts this year, snaffling three errant balls to date.

And another thing ...

In two meetings between the Roosters and Titans last year the half-time score was 14-6 both times. The Titans were surprising leaders in their first clash before the Chooks racked up 28 unanswered points in the second half for a 34-14 victory, with Latrell Mitchell finishing with 18 points. The Roosters led 14-6 at half-time in the second meeting and went on to win 20-12.