Andrew Pelechaty previews Canberra’s return to GIO Stadium against the Wests Tigers.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
A fortnight after their Darwin collapse, Canberra faced a dangerous trip to Wollongong against the St. George-Illawarra Dragons. The Raiders responded with seven tries in a 36-14 win, including a double to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and a record-breaking 121st try to captain Jarrod Crocker. It vaulted Canberra (10-6) to third after the Sydney Roosters lost to North Queensland. Eyeing a top four finish (and a home final), Canberra will want to expand on their 5-3 home record in the run to the finals. Canberra will wear a special home jersey celebrating the 1989 premiership.
The Tigers’ finals hopes stalled with another loss to Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium. While not as bad as the Easter Monday mauling, the 30-18 loss was a sad end to favourite son Benji Marshall’s 300th game, though David Nofoaluma scored a double. With two wins from their last five games, the 7-9 Tigers are still one win outside the eight.
Michael Oldfield replaces the suspended Nick Cotric (three weeks with the early guilty plea). Josh Papalii returns to the starting side, with Iosia Soliola moving to the bench.
Canberra squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Michael Oldfield 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Siliva Havili 15. Corey Horsburgh 16. Sia Soliola 17. Emre Guler 18. Sam Williams 19. Royce Hunt 20. Jack Murchie 21. JJ Collins.
Only one change: Paul Momirovski replaces Robert Jennings on the wing.
Wests Tigers squad: 1. Corey Thompson 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Moses Mbye 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Elijah Taylor 17. Michael Chee-Kam 18. Tommy Taualu 19. Chris McQueen 20. Luke Garner 21. Oliver Clark
HEAD TO HEAD
Canberra continued their cromulent record against the Tigers in lucky round 13 at Bankwest. Enjoying a rare Friday night Channel Nine game, Canberra won 28-0, with tries to Aidan Sezer, Jarrod Croker, John Bateman, Jordan Rapana, and Bailey Simonsson. The highlight for the Green Machine? Their desperation to hold Wests to nil, even when the game was secure. Canberra have loved playing the Tigers recently, with four straight wins from 2016 to 2018: 60-6 and 52-10 (2016), 46-6 (2017), and 48-12 (2018).
Josh Hodgson vs Robbie Farah.
Tigers players and fans will still have nightmares about Hodgson’s game against them last year. Returning after a long injury, he tore the Tigers apart and made the struggling Raiders look like a different team in the 48-12 win. While he hasn’t been at his absolute best this year (not helped by a short injury layoff), Hodgson’s presence and experience is vital for an on-song Green Machine.
Speaking of experience, veteran Tiger Robbie Farah is also vital in keeping their finals hopes alive. He’s played all of the Tigers’ 16 games so far, so Wests will need every bit of his guile from dummy half to cause an upset.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday July 20.
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
WHO WILL WIN?
Embiggened by the confidence-boosting win against the Dragons, Canberra will enjoy returning to Bruce Stadium (and the Viking Clap) after a month away. With an eye on solidifying their top four spot, Canberra should have too much class for the inconsistent Tigers.
Canberra by 20.