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Sydney Roosters-Newcastle key matchups

but his display against Melbourne last week was one the eighth immortal would have been proud of.
Sydney Roosters-Newcastle key matchups
by AAP

KEY MATCH-UPS FOR SATURDAY'S NRL PRELIMINARY FINAL BETWEEN SYDNEY ROOSTERS AND NEWCASTLE AT ALLIANZ STADIUM:

* Mitchell Pearce v Tyrone Roberts: Pearce has been in career-best form since his disappointing performance in the State of Origin decider and can go one step closer to bolstering his credentials as a top-class halfback if his side reach the grand final. Roberts is the latest youngster to carry the burden of wearing Andrew Johns' No.7 jersey - but his display against Melbourne last week was one the eighth immortal would have been proud of.

* Sonny Bill Williams v Willie Mason: Once great mates from their Canterbury days, there was little in the way of friendship when Williams broke Mason's cheekbone with a shoulder charge in round 20. Mason's stint with the Roosters ended sourly in 2010 when Brian Smith showed him the door - the larger-than-life prop would love nothing better than to put one over his former club. A big display from the brilliant Williams will make it hard for the Knights to win.

* JOEY LEILUA v Michael Jennings: Answering to "BJ" or Joseph before being sacked by the Roosters last year amid claims of attitude problems. Leilua has reinvented himself at the Knights and his recent form has been brilliant. Torched the Storm's defence last week and will be keen to do the same against the man who was brought in to take his place by Trent Robinson.

* Anthony Minichiello v Darius Boyd: The veteran Minichiello proved he's still a force to be reckoned with by producing one of the tackles of the season to deny South Sydney's Nathan Merritt a certain try in the recent minor premiership decider. Queensland star Boyd's performances in his first season with the Knights were on a par with his monosyllabic media interviews - but in year two, he's rediscovered his form and will pose a big threat to the Roosters' miserly defence.


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