The Roosters came, saw, and conquered in last week's grand final re-match with Melbourne, sending a firm reminder to everyone that the road to the premiership runs through Bondi.
A head injury to Luke Keary was a concern for coach Trent Robinson but the premiers showed once again their knack for covering important positions when key men go down.
They boast some of the most lethal players in the game - Tedesco, Mitchell - and are playing much better than they were this time last year but can't drop their guard in Thursday's annual Anzac Day showdown.
The Dragons beat the Roosters 24-8 in last year's Anzac Day game and have won four in a row after dropping their first two games in 2019. They won't mind being the underdogs on Thursday.
Roosters: A late change, with Latrell Mitchell moving back to his preferred centre position and Lachlan Lam promoted from the bench to the starting side. Jake Friend got through his side's final training session and will play, while Siosiua Taukeiaho (back) is also good to go. Victor Radley was switched to lock to allow Friend to return in his customary hooker role. Lindsay Collins and Sam Verrills were cut an hour prior to kick-off, while Faamausili and Brock Lamb were omitted on Wednesday.
Dragons: After initially naming the same 17-man team that beat Manly 12-10, coach Paul McGregor has made a surprise game-day change, moving Mikaele Ravalawa and Blake Lawrie to the bench. Zac Lomax will start on the wing, while Jacob Host is the new starting lock. Jai Field and Mitch Allgood were cut an hour before kick-off and Lachlan Timm and Jonus Pearsion were omitted on Wednesday. The Dragons hold bragging rights after a 24-8 triumph over the Roosters in last year's Anzac Day clash.
Plenty hinges on the clash between halves Cooper Cronk and Ben Hunt, but Tim Lafai has a truly tough job on his hands trying to subdue Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell, who has shrugged off a relatively slow start to the season to be back in peak form. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' battle with old hard-head James Graham should also be a beauty.
For the Roosters to win
Trent Robinson was pumping his fists when Mitchell nailed the match-winning field goal in extra time against the Storm but it would've been an entirely different picture if his team had lost after leading 20-0. The Roosters have to rid themselves of their tendency to fall asleep in the second half after charging out to comfortable leads.
For the Dragons to win
They need to keep the Roosters in their own half as much as possible via a pinpoint kicking game and must play with discipline. Shutting down second-phase play is crucial, especially when Keary and Tedesco are lurking. The outside backs will have to be defensively alert for 80 minutes.
Brett Kimmorley says
Due to the aura of Anzac Day, it is a great honour for the players to be involved in this match. Latrell Mitchell was amazing last week and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was also back to his best. Hopefully Luke Keary will be fine to play. For the Dragons, they’ve been fighting their way to wins. The forward battle will be amazing. Whatever pack wins, their haves will have time to play footy. Roosters by 2
Latrell Mitchell is the NRL's top point-scorer (57) after six rounds and has kicked the most goals (24), while Luke Keary is tops in try assists (9) and support play (120). On the flip-side, Mitchell has given away a league-high 12 penalties.
And another thing ...
The Dragons were going so well 12 months ago that the Anzac Day game was billed as a possible grand final preview. It was half right. The Roosters clicked into turbo over the second half of the season and went on to claim the title. The Dragons hit the wall heading into the post-season before shocking the Broncos in Brisbane in week one of the finals and almost upstaging the Rabbitohs before a late-game meltdown.