COLIN Whelanaap

Roosters V Cowboys game should be worthy of a grand final

FRIDAY night's showdown between defending premiers the Roosters and the late-charging North Queensland is worthy of grand final status, but thanks to Penrith's upset finals win over the Sydney club, one of the two power clubs will pack their bags at the end of the Allianz Stadium clash.

This is a titanic tussle worthy of the blockbuster tag often overused.

The Roosters' grip on grand final favouritism slipped after a gutsy Penrith pipped them 19-18, with a wonky Jamie Soward field goal seconds from full-time continuing the Panthers' run of against-the-odds wins.

This will be a case of the Roosters' renowned defence stopping the Cowboys' renowned expansive running game. But the Cowboys' pack has the size, strength and mobility to match its intimidating rivals.

Matt Scott, Ashton Sims, James Tamou and Jason Taumalolo up against Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sonny Bill Williams and Queensland Origin forward Aidan Guerra, who is returning from suspension having missed the Penrith loss, is a recipe for a brutal midfield battle.

Former NSW Origin halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney have found some timely form for the Roosters, while Robert Lui (pictured) is finally taking some heat off Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston, whose blistering late-season form has him on the verge of a third Dally M Player of the Year.

This could well prove to be the game of the finals.

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