Andrew Pelechaty takes a look at the Canberra Raiders’ 2020 draw.
Canberra play eleven games against fellow finalists from last year and have a massive cross-code double-header in Zealand in round two – playing the NZ Warriors at Eden Park, while their Super Rugby cousins the ACT Brumbies play the Auckland Blues. There are also two country trips – to Wagga Wagga (a home game against Newcastle in round six) and Tamworth (Wests Tigers in round nine).
Canberra play the Sydney Roosters, Manly-Warringah, South Sydney and Melbourne twice, with single games against Brisbane, Cronulla-Sutherland, and Parramatta.
They play four of their first seven at GIO Canberra Stadium – against the Gold Coast (in the horrible Friday 6pm timeslot), St. George-Illawarra, Manly (their only prime time Friday night game), and Souths. They travel to Panthers Stadium in round five to play Penrith.
Magic Round returns to Suncorp Stadium in round eight: Canberra play Canterbury-Bankstown in the Saturday 5:30pm game. Lang Park has been a tough venue for Canberra, so hopefully they can grab a rare win there against a rebuilding – but competitive – Bulldogs.
Canberra have a rematch with Penrith at Bruce in round ten, before another trip – this time to Perth – for a grand final replay against the Roosters.
After the round twelve bye, Canberra travel to Melbourne, followed by consecutive home games against the Warriors and the Roosters (the grand finalists’ second meeting in a month).
Round sixteen sees a trip to Jubilee Stadium against Cronulla-Sutherland, before returning to Bruce for two weeks – hosting Brisbane and Parramatta.
Rounds nineteen to twenty-one are back on the road – to WIN Stadium (St. George-Illawarra), North Queensland Stadium (North Queensland) and Brookvale (a second game against Manly).
Their penultimate home game is against the Tigers in round twenty-two, before another fortnight on the road against Souths (Central Coast) and the Titans (CBUS Super Stadium, where the travelling Raiders fans and Queensland-based Canberrans should outnumber the locals).
Canberra end the regular season with a blockbuster Saturday night home game against Melbourne. Hopefully this will be a top four preview as the Raiders prepare for another grand final run.