Date: Monday August 31, 2015
Venue: GIO Stadium
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker (c) 4 Brenko Lee 5 Sisa Waqa 6 Blake Austin 7 Sam Williams 8 Frank Paul Nuuausala 9 Josh Hodgson 10 David Shillington 11 Josh Papalii 12 Jarrad Kennedy 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Luke Bateman 16 Paul Vaughan 17 Shannon Boyd
Panthers: 1 Will Smith 2 Josh Mansour 3 Waqa Blake 4 Lewis Brown 5 David Simmons 6 Apisai Koroisau 7 Jamie Soward 8 Sam McKendry 9 James Segeyaro 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11 Bryce Cartwright 12 Tyrone Peachey 13 Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14 Tupou Sopoaga 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Leilani Latu 17 Sika Manu
Pride will be on the line on Monday night when the Canberra Raiders host Penrith Panthers in the final round 25 National Rugby League match at GIO Stadium.
Heartbroken after a controversial loss to Manly a fortnight ago, Canberra slumped to their fourth consecutive loss thanks to a brilliant performance by rookie Kane Elgey to lift the Titans off the bottom of the ladder. They return to GIO Stadium for the final time in 2015 with a horrible strike rate at home. After a run of twelve wins in a row between August 2012 and July 2013, the Raiders have only won six of their last twenty-seven matches at GIO Stadium. This is something Ricky Stuart will need to address as they look ahead to a brighter 2016.
In David Shillington’s last home game before he departs for the Gold Coast Titans, the Raiders will be heavily relying on Blake Austin and Sam Williams to fire and provide the local faithful with a rare home win. It was Josh Hodgson who starred when these two sides met last time which coincidentally was Canberra’s last win on July 26.
Canberra will be without mid-season recruit Joseph Leilua after copping a season-ending suspension for his shoulder charge on David Mead. This gives Brenko Lee his first chance to play in the top grade after scoring three tries in four appearances for the Green Machine last season.
With an eleven day turnaround, Penrith should be the fresher of the two sides. Going against them is injuries with Elijah Taylor being added to the extended list with a broken hand out of a gallant loss to St George-Illawarra in Wollongong last week. Penrith’s lack of stability in the halves continues with Apisai Koroisau to partner Jamie Soward. Waqa Blake will be hoping his return to National Rugby League level is much happier after being dropped in his sides loss to Parramatta in Darwin at the start of the month.
Penrith are adamant they will avoid the wooden spoon but will need to win one of their next two matches to confirm this. If Hodgson was the match winner last time around, it could be his counterpart James Segeyaro to inspire the Panthers to their second win in three matches. They have the finishers out wide with soon to be retired David Simmons and International Josh Mansour on either wing. It might be enough to give Penrith victory for the third time in five matches in Canberra.
In the Under 20’s Penrith can guarantee themselves of a top two finish with victory in Canberra on Monday afternoon.
In the VB NSW Cup Penrith beat the Illawarra Cutters 34-28 and will face Wyong Roos at Pepper Stadium next Saturday at 12:40pm AEST.
Prediction This game could go either way but with Canberra’s poor home record, Penrith might just scrape home. Panthers by 8.