Date: May 25th, 2014
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Canberra Raiders: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Sami Sauiluma, Terry Campese (c), Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Brett White, Jarrad Kennedy, Joel Edwards, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Mitch Cornish, Matt McIlwrick, Paul Vaughan, Dane Tilse, Shannon Boyd
North Queensland Cowboys: Michael Morgan, Curtis Rona, Matthew Wright, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Robert Lui, Ray Thompson, Scott Bolton, Rory Kostjasyn, Ashton Sims, Ethan Lowe, Jason Taumalolo, Tariq Sims. Interchange: Anthony Mitchell, Glenn Hall, Ricky Thorby, Joel Riethmuller, Sam Hoare, John Asiata
The Canberra Raiders season hasn’t had many positives particularly in more recent NRL rounds. However they have a chance to make this week a major positive as they take on a severely depleted North Queensland Cowboys side.
The Cowboys will be missing Jonathon Thurston, Matt Scott, Brent Tate and James Tamou to Origin duties, while Gavin Cooper and Cameron King have sustained long term injuries to test the Cowboys depth severely.
Such is the lack of experience in the team that Cowboys coach Paul Green is yet to name his side’s captain. The duty may go to Ashton Sims who recently captained Fiji in a representative clash against Samoa.
The Raiders have lost just Josh Papalii for the clash, replaced in the starting line up by Joel Edwards This should see the Raiders win the game handsomely with the form line out the window at Origin time.
The most exciting aspect of the game is perhaps the debut of young Raiders half Mitch Cornish, who will start from the bench for the ‘green machine.’
Having already represented Australia in the Junior Kangaroos side, Cornish has been outstanding for Raiders feeder club Mounties, who sit second in the NSW cup competition.
It is a good time for Coach Ricky Stuart to blood the young half with the number of players out creating a less pressure filled atmosphere and a home crowd that will support the youngster.
The game should also be set up for fullback Anthony Milford to make his own. The speedy number one should be able to sniff out a few gaps throughout the game as players not use to the pace of the NRL begin to struggle on tired legs.
For the Cowboys, one of the major positives in the game is the experience they do have within their halves combination. Both Robert Lui and Ray Thompson having played greater than fifty NRL games, so the direction of play for the Cowboys will not be lost.
The form of centre Kane Linnett is another bonus for the club coming off the back of his career first hat trick in the thumping of the Sydney Roosters last week.
For the Raiders, the match could prove a season catapult and they will be looking to win and win well to gain the confidence only success can bring.
The Cowboys beat the Raiders in the round one fixture 28-22 on the back of a Jonathon Thurston master class and while the Cowboys have come a long way since that performance, with their stars out it will prove too much to leave Canberra with the two points.
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