The Canberra Raiders will host the table topping Penrith Panthers on Friday night at GIO Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Raiders are fresh off the bye and prior to that a one point win against Manly. The men in green have had an inconsistent first half of the season, their record sits at five wins and seven losses. They sit four points outside the top 8 and will look for a bit of consistency to be in contention come September.
The Panthers have also come off a bye and they are on a three game winning streak, including toppling the ladder leaders St George to claim top spot from them. Penrith are playing some terrific footy and it’s shown with a plethora of their stars being selected to play for NSW. They will look to claim another scalp in the capital on Friday to continue their run.
Penrith have been allowed to name additional players due to a heavy representation in State of Origin.
Canberra have name an unchanged line up following their victory over Manly two weeks ago. Josh Papalii is the only player who would have to back up after participating in State of Origin, while Nick Cotric will also back up, however he was 18th man for NSW.
The Panthers have only made one change with Kaide Ellis replacing Jack Hetherington who will miss the game due to suspension. Their four origin representatives have all be named to play and are tipped all to back up.
Last Time Out
Penrith ended the Raiders season last time out in Round 24 of 2017. It was a must win if Canberra were to sneak into the top 8, however Penrith prevailed in a close one 26-22 thanks to a late Tyrone May try.
This game will all depend on the condition of the Panthers halves in Nathan Cleary and James Maloney who partnered in the halves for NSW. Maloney and Cleary have formed a formidable partnership and are one of the reasons why the men from the foot of the mountain are flying so high. It has been a different story for the Raiders halves, with Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer both showing glimpses but not enough to show that they can guide their side to glory. Cleary and Maloney are the catalyst for Penrith’s attack and if they are too fatigued from Origin and Austin and Sezer show up, the pendulum swings towards Canberra’s favour.
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 Dunamis Lui, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Iosia Soliola, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii. Interchange: 14 Ata Hingano, 15 Luke Bateman, 16 Charlie Gubb, 17 Liam Knight. Reserves: 18 Emre Guler, 19 Michael Oldfield, 20 Jack Murchie, 21 Craig Garvey
Penrith Panthers: 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2 Christian Crichton, 3 Tyrone Peachey, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Tyrone Phillips, 6 James Maloney (c), 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Corey Harawira-Naera, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 James Fisher-Harris. Interchange: 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Kaide Ellis, 16 Viliame Kikau, 17 James Tamou. Reserves: 18 Jarome Luai, 19 Tyrone May, 20 Thomas Eisenhuth, 21 Nick Lui-Toso, 22 Caleb Aikins, 23 Liam Martin
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday June 8
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
WHO WILL WIN?
Both teams are coming off the bye, with Canberra only having one player play in State of Origin compared to Penrith’s four. Canberra are the fresher of the two sides, but Penrith are on top of the ladder for a reason and won’t be a walkover. Expect the fresher Raiders to come out with more run and edge out a close victory.
Raiders by 6