Canberra Raiders will host the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium, in Round 22 on Sunday 2pm.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Raiders have lost their last 3 games to crash out of finals contention for 2018. Their abysmal record of no wins against a top 8 side this year was kept intact over the past 3 weeks as they lost to Cronulla, Melbourne, and then last weeks thriller against the Panthers
The Tigers got their finals run back on track last week with a solid win against the Knights, after going down to the lowly Bulldogs the week before. The Tigers need to win their remaining 4 games to give themselves a chance to finish in the Top 8.
The Raiders are unchanged from last week’s loss to Penrith. Emre Guler and Makahesi Makatoa have been cut from the reserves.
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak replaces Corey Thompson (ankle) on the wing. Luke Garner starts in the second row with Elijah Taylor shifting to lock and Matt Eisenhuth to the bench. Robbie Rochow comes in and pushes Jacob Liddle to the reserves, while Mahe Fonua (broken arm) was named in the reserves and is close to returning. Tyson Gamble and Chris McQueen drop off the reserves.
The last time these two teams met, the Raiders thumped the Tigers 48-12 at Campbelltown Stadium in round 15. In fact the past four meetings between these teams have ended in big wins for the Raiders with the Raiders outscoring the Tigers 206 to 34.
Coming into round 22 the Raiders have the best attack, while the Tigers have the worst. But its in defence where the Tigers have excelled this season, ranked 4th.
The big question on everyone’s mind is how will the Tigers will react after the coaching drama’s which begun on Monday. Although a favourable response from coach Cleary on Saturday afternoon committing to see out his remaining 2 years, there is no question the doubt brought on the Tigers may impact their mental strength.
The senior players, Marshall, and Farah, who were not involved in the round 15 game between these two clubs, will need to play a big part in keeping the team concentrating on what is still achievable this season, a Top 8 spot. Luke Brooks’ kicking game last round was exceptional, and lead the Tigers to the win over the Knights. For the Raiders, enigmatic centre, Joey Leilua, was at his best last week, finishing with a hat-trick in the 40-31 defeat to the Panthers.
The Raiders are unpredictable and hard to follow. They had a big lead again last week and got run down. The Tigers got their season back on track after last weeks win, but the coaching dramas are difficult to ignore. A big effort this week will show if they are still buying into Ivan’s grand plan and are still “on the bus”.
Benji Marshall’s record against the Raiders, spanning across his 3 clubs is remarkable, facing them 18 times for 17 wins, with his only loss coming in 2012.
1 Nick Cotric, 2 Brad Abbey, 3 Blake Austin, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aidan Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Josh Hodgson (c), 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii, Interchange: 14 Dunamis Lui, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Luke Bateman
1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Michael Chee Kam, 12 Luke Garner, 13 Elijah Taylor (c), Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Suaso Sue, 16 Robbie Rochow, 17 Matt Eisenhuth
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 12th August
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Ben Cummins, Chris Butler
WHO WILL WIN?
With Farah and Marshall leading the way, the Tigers by 7