Andrew Pelechaty previews Canberra’s ‘away game at home (but not really at home)’ game against the Wests Tigers. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Tigers (2-2) had a shock loss to the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night, keeping them in ninth place (where else?). While a rare Titans win (their first since June 9, 2019, also at Suncorp Stadium) made for great headlines, the Tigers would be wondering how they let it slip: they led 12-0 after 12 minutes; 22-12 after 54 minutes (with David Nofoaluma scoring two tries); and 23-22 after Benji Marshall’s 76th-minute field goal. A 77th-minute try to Phillip Sami stole victory for the Titans.
Canberra had an poor Sunday afternoon against Newcastle, losing 34-18. Newcastle led 10-0 after 10 minutes (with Bradman Best scoring in the first minute), before Jack Wighton scored Canberra’s first try. Wighton made a crucial mistake just before halftime, conceding a penalty try by tackling Enari Tuala without the ball. The Knights extended their lead to 28-6 in the second half before Canberra mounted a valiant comeback (tries to Nick Cotric and Josh Papalii), closing the gap to 28-18. Best scored his second try on full time to ice the win. Canberra (3-1) remain in the top four despite the loss. You can guarantee Ricky Stuart, who said his team “played like children”, will have his boys ready to face the Tigers.
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Alex Twal 14. Thomas Mikaele 15. Russell Packer 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Benji Marshall 19. Luke Garner 20. Billy Walters 21. Corey Thompson.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Jordan Rapana 18. Tom Starling 19. Matt Frawley 20. Ryan Sutton 21. Michael Oldfield.
The Tigers have been Canberra’s whipping boy for the past few seasons (though the Tigers have an overall 19-18 lead since 2000). The Raiders won both games last year: 20-12 in Canberra and 28-0 at Bankwest Stadium. Before that, Canberra won 48-12 (2018), 46-6 (2017), 60-6 and 52-10 (2016). The Tigers squeezed a rare win in 2018, beating Canberra 22-20 in Canberra in round 22, which all but ended the Raiders’ slim finals hopes.
Last year’s 28-0 Bankwest win was arguably the making of the Raiders’ improved defence (both physically and mentally); while they had the game won by halftime (leading 18-0), they kept up their defensive pressure in the second half, refusing to let the Tigers score.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Josh Reynolds v Jack Wighton
Replacing the axed Benji Marshall (a surprise decision considering his late field goal put the Tigers in front before the Titans stole the game), Reynolds has been in the headlines for various off-field reasons. What better way to switch the focus than with a big game against last year’s grand finalists? Regardless, you get the feeling that Marshall’s omission will help Canberra.
For the record, Reynolds has played twice this season, scoring one try. He’ll have his hands full against Jack Wighton.
Jack Wighton had arguably his worst game in ages against Newcastle: his kicked out on the full early and cancelled out his great first half try by conceding a crucial penalty try right on halftime. The Raiders trailed 10-6 at the time and were working their way back into the game. The penalty try put Newcastle 16-6 up and killed any momentum Canberra had built up. Wighton will be hungry to redeem himself by dominating the Tigers.
It’s a battle between two teams coming off embarrassing last start losses. Canberra are a lot, lot better than their effort against Newcastle showed, so expect them to be switched on against the Tigers.
Canberra by 12.
Date: Saturday June 13.
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney.