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2021 NRL Round 23 Preview, Raiders Vs Sea Eagles

Nathan Smith previews the Canberra Raiders up against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Date: 20/8, Time: 6:00pm

Raiders Team

1. Jordan Rapana
2. Bailey Simonsson
3. Sebastian Kris
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. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
15. Emre Guler
16. Iosia Soliola
17. Matt Frawley
18. Dunamis Lui
19. Trey Mooney
20. Elijah Anderson
21. Caleb Aekins

Team Changes

IN: Caleb Aikens, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dunamis Lui, Elijah Anderson, Matt Frawley, Trey Mooney


OUT: Corey Harawira-Naera, Jarrod Croker, Tom Starling

Sea Eagles Team

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Morgan Harper
4. Moses Suli
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Martin Taupau
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Josh Shuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Dylan Walker
15. Karl Lawton
16. Curtis Sironen
17. Toafofoa Sipley
18. Jack Gosiewski
19. Tevita Funa
20. Kurt de Luis
21. Cade Cust

Team Changes

IN: Cade Cust, Jack Gosiewski, Tevita Funa, Toafofoa Sipley


OUT: Brad Prker

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Referee: Adam Gee

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Canberra Raiders

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The Canberra Raiders lost last week against competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm. They’ve had an inconsistent few weeks and haven’t been able to string back to back wins since Rounds 17 and 18. Sitting on 20 points (equal to the Gold Coast TItans who are in 8th position), the Raiders need to be winning every game from here on in to secure a spot in the 2021 finals series.

The big in for the Raiders is Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who will start on the bench as coach Ricky Stuart eases him back into the NRL. Further, there’s been a brief shuffle to the bench, with Matt Frawley coming onto the bench to cover for Tom Starling.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

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The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles returned to their soaring rise with a dominant 56-10 win over the Parramatta Eels. They are storming into the 2021 finals series in dominant form and gunning for a possible top four spot, with a Roosters’ win last week the only thing preventing them from that position. A win this week keeps the hope of that top four finish alive.

Unbelievably, Tom Trbojevic has been named to play, despite a reported fractured cheekbone. A final call is expected to be made on Thursday. Brad Praker will be rested due to concussion, with Moses Suli coming into the side. Toafofoa Sipley returns from suspension and will start on the bench.

PREVIEW

Two teams with two very different aspirations in the final few rounds. The “home” team, the Canberra Raiders, are looking to creep into the top eight. Meanwhile, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are already comfortably there, and thinking top four instead.

Though the Raiders lost last week, they won’t be to disappointed in a competitive game against the seemingly eternal benchmark in the Melbourne Storm. Going down by 10 points offers more positives than not when the team you’re up against has one of the highest winning percentages of the decade. However, it does mean they have to spend another week outside of the eight. From this point onwards, the Raiders will need to decide how much they want to feature in the finals, because the chances to advance up the ladder are becoming less and less. Ricky Stuart won’t be pleased to settle for a close ninth, given they were grand finalists only two years ago, and will be desperate to help them reach the pinnacle again.

The Sea Eagles have seen one of the greatest shifts of form since perhaps the Parramatta Eels of 2009. Given they turned it around much earlier in the season, the team you’re watching on the field is vastly different to the one that featured in the first four rounds of the competition. As it sits, they’re close to featuring in the top four for the finals series, and look like a very likely candidate to challenge for the premiership. They were impressive last week against a hapless Eels, however, a loss to the Storm a fortnight ago has shown that there’s still work to be done. This week presents itself as another opportunity to continue building towards another premiership, ten years after their last.

The Raiders will have their fingers and toes crossed that Trbojevic doesn’t play. A near certainty for Dally M honours this year, he may very well be the most influential player in the competition. As mentioned earlier, Manly’s first four rounds were a horror, and the common theme of those early rounds was simple: Tom wasn’t playing. Simply put, if he plays, Manly are a huge chance.

On the subject of influential fullbacks, it’s hard to ignore the return of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. A vital cog to the Canberra Raiders team, he has missed a significant amount of time on the field this year, which could certainly be attributed to their struggle with consistency and form. He will be coming off of the bench this week, given his match fitness wouldn’t be ideal, however there’s no question that he’ll be looking to make up for lost time.

KEY STAT

The Raiders will come into this match confident they can win, having defeated the Sea Eagles 30-16 earlier this year. However, the overall form favours Manly, who have won 36 of their 59 games, and six of their past eight.

PREDICTION

Tom Trbojevic’s ultimate inclusion may be a decisive factor in the outcome of this match. If he misses out, the Raiders are a good chance of keeping it close and possibly winning. However, if he plays, Manly has every chance of scoring a plentiful amount of points. Ultimately, the Sea Eagles recent form is too hard to overlook, and they should be winning this.

Manly by 12

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