The Wests Tigers enter their Sunday afternoon clash against the Canberra Raiders at Leichhardt Oval knowing that only a win will salvage their season.
A win may not be enough for Jason Taylor’s men should the Titans beat the Cowboys, but the maligned coach should take credit for what should be the joint venture’s best season since 2011.
The Raiders, on the other hand, are aiming for ten consecutive wins and second place on the ladder, should the Storm beat the Sharks.
LAST TIME OUT
Many pundits thought that Wests’ season was over once Tedesco was injured but the Tigers have been one of the surprise packets of the season. In a do or die battle against the favoured Warriors, the Tigers were down by six points with ten minutes to go. Three tries in the last ten minutes secured a 36-24 win for the Tigers.
Since playing Melbourne three weeks ago, the Raiders have been found lacking in defence. The defensive combination between Leilua and Williams was exposed by Tom Trbojevic. However, the Raiders were once again lethal in attack, defeating Manly 44-30.
Aaron Woods v Shannon Boyd
The last time these two sides, Woods was a notable absentee. The Raiders won 60-6. Although the Tigers were in a rut at the time, the big enforcer was sorely missed as the Canberra side dominated the Tigers pack before Jordan Rapana ran riot.
Woods’ big game experience and leadership make him arguably the most valuable player at the club. His statistics show he one of the best props in the competition, averaging over 160 meters and completing almost 28 tackles a game.
With Junior Paulo missing for the second consecutive week due to injury, it’s Boyd who is required to provide size for the Green Machine. Weighing in at 122kg, Boyd has been in good form as of late and can get through a sizeable work rate. Against Manly, he made a mammoth 33 tackles in a 46-minute performance.
Last month, the Cowboys found out how difficult it can be to win at Leichhardt Oval and the Raiders could find that too. If Wests enter this clash with a chance of playing finals football, they will be confident in their ability to upset Canberra.
However, Ricky Stuart wouldn’t be pleased with his side’s performances over the last fortnight and will be looking for his team to improve defensively. A partisan Leichhardt crowd could kick the Raiders into gear.
Raiders to win by 8.
Tigers: 1 David Nofoaluma 2 Jordan Rankin 3 Tim Simona 4 Kevin Naiqama 5 Joshua Addo 6 Mitchell Moses 7 Luke Brooks 8 Aaron Woods (c) 9 Dene Halatau 10 Jesse Sue 11 Joshua Aloiai 12 Christopher Lawrence 13 Elijah Taylor Interchange: 14 Kyle Lovett 15 Avagalu Seumanufagai 16 Tim Grant 17 Joel Edwards 18 Michael Chee Kam
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker (c) 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Samuel Williams 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Paul Vaughan 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Iosia Soliola Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Luke Bateman 16 Clay Priest 17 Joseph Tapine