In a game where only one side is significantly impacted by Origin, who will run off victors? With five players gone from the Roosters, Canberra gets off light losing only Papalii As well as hosting the match. What might have been a close contest, may fall victim to a pre-Origin upset. Can the Raiders their first win over a top 8 team this year?
LAST TIME OUT
The Raiders were tied with the Eels at half time and then were behind before a rally and two tries led to the 6-point victory. With Parramatta adjusting to life with Mitchell Moses, this win over a team running tenth was not convincing. Missed tackles, including 6 by Sezer show why the Raiders are struggling.
The Roosters were up against the Bulldogs and they were at their troublesome best. With many fans wondering what it would take for the Bulldogs to be gifted the try they would need to at least tie it up. An interesting demand given they were already well favoured with the whistle. Pressure by the Roosters was the greater impact on the scoreline, forcing four drop outs with a high-quality kicking game coming from Mitchell Pierce, a skill that would be needed this Wednesday evening for the Blues.
Every game for Canberra and almost every team will focus on the halves combination. Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer are the well settled paring for the Raiders and it will be from here that they will find victory. Young Rooster, Connor Watson has had a limited number of appearances this season, but filling in for Pierce for the full 80 and working with Luke Keary may stretch his skillset and fitness. At 20, he is short on experience, but has played in the role before in the NYC.
Will Canberra be looking to exploit Watson, Ricky Stuart has never been known to be soft on his opponents, and so it will be a test for the young player. He has also only limited numbers on the field, averaging just 20 minutes per game in the seven he has played. The pace and power of an almost full strength Raiders outfit will test Watson and this Origin period may give him the opportunity to show what he is made of.
In a normal week, this game would see me favouring the Roosters, this is based on the poor performance by Canberra when playing against a top eight team. However, not many sides can compensate for the loss of five of their best being missing for an exhibition game that has no impact on the season for either team. Teams can adjust for the loss of one player, but three or more has shown that even the best sides struggle. Considering this, it is easy to choose the Raiders by 6.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joseph Leilua,
5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Josh Hodgson,
10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Joseph Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Iosia Soliola,
Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Clay Priest, 17. Dunamis Lui,
18. Dave Taylor, 19. Scott Sorensen, 20. Brent Naden, 21. Lachlan Croker.
Sydney Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell,
4. Mitchell Aubusson, 5. Joseph Manu, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Luke Keary,
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend (c), 10. Kane Evans, 11. Ryan Matterson,
12. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 13. Zane Tetevano,
Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu, 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Chris Smith, 17. Mitchell Cornish,
18. Nat Butcher, 19. Victor Radley, 20. Eloni Vunakece, 21. Brock Gray.