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2021 NRL Round 18 Preview, Raiders Vs Sharks

Jem Nash previews this big round 18 clash between the Sharks and Raiders as both sides continue to chase a top eight finish. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: CBUS Stadium, Date: 17/7 Time: 5:30pm AEST*

Raiders

1. Xavier Savage
2. Semi Valemei
3. Jarrod Croker
4. Sebastian Kris
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Jack Wighton
7. Sam Williams
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson
10. Emre Guler
11. Corey Harawira-Naera
12. Hudson Young
13. Ryan Sutton
14. Tom Starling
15. Joseph Tapine
16. Iosia Soliola
17. Ryan James
18. Matthew Timoko
19. Trey Mooney
20. Matt Frawley
21. Harley Smith-Shields

Team Changes

IN: Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii
OUT: Matt Frawley, Dunamis Lui

Sharks

1. William Kennedy
2. Sione Katoa
3. Connor Tracey
4. Jesse Ramien
5. Ronaldo Mulitalo
6. Braydon Trindall
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Aiden Tolman
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Aaron Woods
11. Briton Nikora
12. Teig Wilton
13. Toby Rudolf
14. Mawene Hiroti
15. Siosifa Talakai
16. Jack Williams
17. Braden Hamlin-Uele
18. Billy Magoulias
19. Royce Hunt
20. Andrew Fifita
21. Luke Metcalf

Team Changes

IN:
OUT:

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Raiders

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The Raiders bounced back in a big way last week with a good win over the Sea Eagles, albeit without Tom Trbojevic. It was just their third win since round five, but it might be just what the Raiders need to get their season back on track. With no Wighton or Papalii, their young forwards stepped up in a big way, led by a huge performance from Joseph Tapine off the bench, who made 234 metres from 21 runs, including 86 post contact.

Sharks

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The Sharks are in a good run of form right now, having won five of their past six matches, most recently their 20-12 win over the Warriors in round 17. Halfback Shaun Johnson has been in great touch during this impressive stretch, his kicking game leading the way while still being a threat with ball in hand. Toby Rudolf continues to prove he’s one of the more underrated forwards in the competition after another strong performance last week where he ran for 169 metres.

PREVIEW

Neither side will want to lose this game that could have huge ramifications for finals. The Sharks come into this clash in better form but the Raiders will no doubt be full of confidence after their impressive victory last week.

If the Raiders are to make it two in a row, their forward pack will have to step up once again. Young, Sutton and Tapine all ran for at least 130 metres last week, and they will need something similar against the likes of Rudolf and veterans Aaron Woods and Aiden Tolman. It will come down to who can get on top through the middle and allow their halves space to control the game.

Raiders rookie Xavier Savage will be hoping to back up an impressive debut last week, coming up against an underrated opponent in William Kennedy. Both fullbacks should have bright futures in the game and their battle will be one of the more intriguing ones in this game.

KEY STAT

The Sharks haven’t beaten the Raiders since 2018, with the Raiders winning the last five games between the two sides.

PREDICTION

This match could go either way as both teams will come in with plenty of confidence. The Raiders have struggled for consistency in 2021 though, while the Sharks seem to have found a rhythm in recent weeks.

Sharks by two. 

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