2021 NRL Round 21 Preview, Raiders Vs Dragons

Craig Cauchi previews the Raiders and the Dragons as both spots fight to keep their finals chances alive. This is what we have to look forward to.


Venue: CBUS Stadium, Date: 6/8, Time: 6pm

Raiders Team

1. Jordan Rapana
2. Semi Valemei
3. Jarrod Croker
4. Matthew Timoko
5. Harley Smith-Shields
6. Jack Wighton
7. Sam Williams
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson
10. Joseph Tapine
11. Hudson Young
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Ryan Sutton
14. Tom Starling
15. Corey Harawira-Naera
16. Emre Guler
17. Elijah Anderson
18. Iosia Soliola
19. Dunamis Lui
20. Matt Frawley
21. Siliva Havili

Team Changes

IN: Elijah Anderson, Matt Frawley, Ryan Sutton, Siliva Havili
OUT: Sebastian Kris

Dragons Team

1. Jack Bird
2. Mathew Feagai
3. Cody Ramsey
4. Zac Lomax
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Corey Norman
7. Adam Clune
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Josh McGuire
11. Billy Burns
12. Tariq Sims
13. Jack de Belin
14. Talatau Amone
15. Jackson Ford
16. Jaiyden Hunt
17. Kaide Ellis
18. Matt Dufty
19. Poasa Faamausili
20. Jayden Sullivan
21. Daniel Alvaro

Team Changes

IN: Blake Lawrie, Daniel Alvaro, Jack Bird, Jack De Belin, Josh McGuire, Matt Dufty, Mikaele Ravalawa, Zac Lomax
OUT: Ben Hunt, Gerard Beale, Josh Kerr, Tyrell Fuimaono, Tyrell Sloane

Referee: TBA



The Raiders were looking for four straight wins when they faced Newcastle last Sunday but faltered in the Brisbane heat. Ricky Stuart has shuffled the side around with Ryan Sutton named at lock, Hudson Young moved into the second row, and Iosia Soliola moving pack into the reserves. Elijah Anderson is named to make his debut off the bench.


The Dragons haven’t looked the same since their victory over the Warriors, struggling with the lift in intensity from opposition teams. The side this week features a number of changes with Ben Hunt: their best player for 2021, sidelined with a broken arm. Surprisingly neither Matt Dufty nor Tyrell Sloane will line up at fullback, with Jack Bird named to return from his suspension as the custodian. Zac Lomax returns from a long injury and suspension lay off. The same for his wing partner Mikaele Ravalawa, returning from a 4 week suspension he picked up from their last meeting with the Raiders. The forwards shift again this week with Tyrell Fuimaono and Josh Kerr suspended and Blake Lawrie, Jack De Belin, and Josh McGuire returning to the starting side. Adam Clune will partner Corey Norman in the halves.


Both sides are in a five way logjam in the middle of the table. With five matches remaining in the competition, the loser of this contest will be looking at their season in a whole new context come round 22. The Dragons defence has turned passive in recent weeks while the Raiders were unable to back up their aggression against a fast paced Newcastle outfit. Against Manly and Parramatta, the Raiders kept it simple by rolling down the middle and I can’t see them changing that tactic for this match. While the Raiders look to have the advantage in the forward pack it will come down to both sides leading playmaker to get their team over the line.

It was Ben Hunt that stood tall when these last two teams faced off against each other on a windy night in Woollongong. The Dragons halfback won’t be there on Friday and that leaves Corey Norman to provide the creativity his side needs to score points. Corey has the kicking game to turn the Raiders big forwards around but he is yet to make a big statement on a game since arriving at the Dragons. With no Dufty and Hunt, this is his team to control and the Dragons need him to step up.

On the other side of the field, much has been spoken about Jack Wighton’s indifferent form in 2021. This match might come at the perfect time for the five eighth as a reminder of what makes him such a dangerous player. Wighton needs to run the ball more. Jack will have a lot of open space to take advantage of in this match and the message to him should be simple: forget the structure and play what’s in front of you.


Elijah Anderson will get his opportunity to make his debut at age 22. The winger has 8 appearance this year in the KOE NSW Cup competition scoring a try and making eight tackle breaks so far. It will be interesting to see how he’ll be used on the day if he remains on the team sheet come kick off.


The Raiders will be disappointed after last week but encouraged by their good record against the Dragons.

Raiders by 20.

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