Earlier this season the Raiders routed the Warriors 38-12 in a performance that threatened to lose Warriors coach, Andrew McFadden his job.
Since that match the Warriors have been a different beast, winning four matches and only losing two – both in golden point. The Raiders have been impressive in this period too having lost only one game – against the Broncos.
LAST TIME OUT
The Raiders had the bye in round 19 but hosted the North Queensland Cowboys the week before. The Canberra-based side beat the reigning premiers who were without their Origin stars to complete a 26-12 win. The Cowboys made the men in green work hard for their win but Jack Wighton repaid Ricky Stuart’s faith with his best performance of the season.
The Warriors had the longest away trip in the NRL when they travelled to Perth to play Manly. Despite being the better side, the Warriors finished with nothing to show for their efforts when Cherry-Evans kicked the winning field goal in the 84th minute.
Aidan Sezer v Shaun Johnson
Although very different players, the two halfbacks are the key for Saturday’s game. Sezer’s game management it critical in a side that loves to play ad-lib football. His precise kicking allows the Raiders to prevent the opposition from making easy meters when running the ball out of defence. Sezer’s game isn’t all about structure though as the half can step defenders to score as seen in the Raiders previous match.
Johnson was n’t at his best at the start of the season but has been on fire over the past fcouple of months. The 2014 Golden Boot winner has been instrumental in the Warriors resurgence scoring three tries and assisting a further five in his last six games. His ability to creating scoring opportunities will mean the Raiders defence will need to put plenty of pressure on Johnson for the full eighty minutes.
Two of the competitions most attacking sides will provide an entertaining – yet stressful game for fans. However, the Warriors are coming off the back of a long trip from Perth and have an atrocious record at GIO Stadium – three wins from 13 attempts. The Raiders are coming off the bye and have only lost two home games all season – the fourth-best home record in the competition.
There should be plenty of tries and not a lot to separate the sides.
Raiders by 6.
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Joey Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Junior Paulo 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliott Whitehead 13 Shaun Fensom 14 Iosia Soliola 15 Luke Bateman 16 Paul Vaughan 17 Joseph Tapine
Warriors: 1 David Fusitua 2 Ken Maumalo 3 Blake Ayshford 4 Solomone Kata 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Thomas Leuluai 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jacob Lillyman 9 Issac Luke 10 James Gavet 11 Bunty Afoa 12 Ryan Hoffman 13 Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14 Tuimoala Lolohea 15 Sam Lisone 16 Ben Matulino 17 Jazz Tevaga