NRL Round Eight Preview: Roosters aim to continue their red-hot streak against the Storm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 25: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers warms up before the round seven NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on June 25, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Just two points separate the top four in the NRL Ladder as we look ahead to round eight. Will the Parramatta Eels be able to hold on to that top spot? Or will they be overthrown by the hunting pack?

Once again all seven fixtures will be available in the UK to Sky Sports customers via the Sky Sports Arena channel.

Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters

The game of the round will take place on Thursday as the defending champions the Sydney Roosters take on last seasons table toppers the Melbourne Storm.

It will be the first meetings between the two sides since last seasons Preliminary Final when the Roosters defeated the Storm by 14-6 on their way to the title.

They currently sit level on 10 points, with five wins each from their opening seven games. The Roosters are the competitions in-form team having won five on the spin since the restart.

Team News:

For the hosts, Ryley Jacks comes into the halves in place of Cameron Munster who is out with a knee injury

The Roosters have more changes to the squad. Jack Friend is back in the starting team with Sam Verrills out with an ACL injury and Nat Butcherstarts at lock for Victory Radley who has also injured his ACL.

James Tedesco will return from a head knock sustained against the Eels, pushing Joseph Manu to centre alongside a returning Josh Morris with Ryan Hall out and Mitch Aubusson dropped down to the interchange.

Poasa Faamauslili has returned from a loan to the Warriors and is on the bench

Canberra Raiders v St George Illawarra Dragons

The Canberra Raiders will be hoping to bounce back from last weeks Golden Point heartbreak when they face off against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday.

It has been a rocky last few weeks for the Raiders who, despite leading the competition early, have fallen to three defeats in their last four to slip to seventh on the ladder heading into Round Eight.

The Dragons meanwhile have picked up two wins from their last three as they attempt to distance themselves from the foot of the ladder.

Team News

The Raiders will be without Jordan Rapana and Curtis Scott who are replaced by Bailey Simonsson and Michael Oldfield. However, they are boosted by the news the halfback George Williams will be fit to play despite breaking his nose in last weeks defeat.

Meanwhile, there are no changes for the Dragons, who could move as high as eighth this weekend if results go their way.

Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys

The Parramatta Eels will be hoping to make it seven from eight as they look to cling onto their position at the top of the ladder.

They come up against a North Queensland side who have struggled for consistency so far this season but will be buoyed by their big win over the Newcastle Knights last time out.

The Eels go into the game as favourites but will be wary of the threat that the Cowboys possess.

Team News:

For the Raiders, Jai Field replaces Mitchell Moses, who limped off against the Raiders with a calf injury, at halfback with David Gower getting a spot on the bench in place of Daniel Alvaro.

Val Holmes is closing in on a return for the Cowboys after being out with an ankle injury and has been named in the reserves for the match. Justin O'Neill has been named on the wing with Tom Opacic playing at centre. 

Gold Coast Titans v Cronulla Sharks

The Gold Coast Titans will be hoping to build on last weeks victory over fellow strugglers the Brisbane Broncos when they come up against the Cronulla Sharks this weekend.

The Titans begin the weekend off the foot of the table for the first time this season as Justin Holbrook continues to imprint his style of play on the Gold Coast franchise.

They won't have it easy against the Sharks though, they themselves are on a two-game winning run, including an impressive 40-22 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles last time out.

Team News:

Tyrone Peachy will come into the centres for the Titans in place of Dale Copley whilst there is a spot in the reserves for Tyrone Roberts who has recovered from an ankle injury that has kept the five-eighth out of the majority of the season to date.

Nene Macdonald is in line for his first appearance in over 12 months having moved to the Sharks from the Cowboys in the off-season. Josh Dugan is fit to play having come off in the win over Manly with tightness in his calf.

New Zealand Warriors v Brisbane Broncos

The Brisbane Broncos will be hoping to put an end to their torrid run that has seen them lost all five matches since the restart when they host fellow strugglers the New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors are winless in their last two ​​​​​​and suffered a humiliating 50-6 defeat to the Storm last time out, resulting in  Storm captain Cameron Smith and head coach Craig Bellamy taking to the Warriors locker room to speak to the deflated squad post-match.

Team News:

There are big changes for both sides as Peta Hiku moves to fullback in order to replace the suspended Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. That switch paves the way for Gerard Beale to move into the centres. 

Adam Blair and Tohu Harris also make their way into the starting 13 having missed out in last weeks heavy defeat.

There will be no Corey Oates for the Broncos, with the winger dropped as the Broncos look for a solution to end their poor run of form. He will be replaces by Jamayne Isaako. There are injury concerns over Matt Lodge, who has been named in the starting 13 despite fears over his knee injury.

Joe Ofanhengaue is suspended and is replaced by Pat Carrigan, who returns from a suspension of his own. 

Wests Tigers vs Penrith Panthers

The high flying Penrith Panthers will be looking to capitalise on any potential slip up from the Eels when they meet the Wests Tigers on Saturday evening.

The Panthers have picked up big wins against the Rabbitohs and the Storm in their last two outings. Meanwhile, the Tigers have won their last two against the Bulldogs and Cowboys.

Team News:

Very little to report for either side as the Tigers name an unchanged side from last weeks rout of Canterbury.

For the Panthers there is a return for Josh Mansour who has overcome a knee injury which has kept him out of last weeks win over the Bunnies.

Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights

Both Manly and Newcastle will be looking to get back to winning ways, with the two having suffered heavy defeats in Round Seven.

The Sea Eagles are in real danger of dropping out of the top eight and could see themselves fall as low as 11th if they fail to pick up the two points at the Lottoland Stadium on Sunday.

Team News:

There will be no Tom Trbojevic for the Sea Eagles on Sunday as the influential fullback remains on the sidelines with the knee injury he picked up in the Round Six win over the Canberra Raiders.

There is a return for Moses Suli who replaces Brendan Elliot in the only change to the Sea Eagles starting lineup.

Meanwhile for the Knights Bradman Best is back in at centre having completed a mandatory week in quarantine. The highly-rated youngster replaces Gehmat Shibasaki. Tim Glasby is out having failed a HIA in last weeks defeat to the North Queensland Cowboys. Herman Ese'ese is in to replace him. 

Canterbury Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs

The NRL's bottom side the Canterbury Bulldogs will be hoping to stop the rot when they come up against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who themselves are looking to jump into the top eight.

The Bulldogs have lost three on the spin, conceding a total of 96 points across those three games. Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs two-game winning run came to end last time out with defeat to the Panthers.

Team News:

There is the potential of an NRL debut for Englishman Luke Thompson who has completed his time in quarantine following his move from St Helens at the beginning of the month.

Will Hopgate, Jake Verillo and Kerrod Holland all miss out through injury whilst Jack Cogger also missed out. Reimis Smith, Marcelo Montoya, Nick Meany and Christian Crichton come into the side.

For the Rabbitohs there is just one change as James Roberts starts in plce of Braidon Burns. 

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