Jem Nash previews this Saturday night battle between the Raiders and Panthers in Canberra.
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Raiders: 1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Emre Guler 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Albert Hopoate 19. Ata Mariota 20. Matt Frawley 21. Corey Horsburgh 22. Semi Valemei
Jordan Rapana returns from suspension in the only change for the Raiders, with Albert Hopoate dropping back to the reserves.Embed from Getty Images
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Taylan May 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Charlie Staines 18. Sunia Turuva 19. Matthew Eisenhuth 20. Chris Smith 21. Kurt Falls 22. Lindsay Smith
Sean O’Sullivan swaps five-eighth for halfback this week in place of the suspended Nathan Cleary, with Jaeman Salmon named to partner him in the halves. Stephen Crichton returns from his nasty ear cut, with Robert Jennings dropping out. Mitch Kenny is also back on the bench.
Referee: Grant Atkins
On the back of a good recent run of form, the Raiders sit just one spot outside the top eight, and have a fantastic chance to add another big scalp to their list. Canberra have won three straight and now come up against a Panthers side missing their star halves pairing.
The pressure is now on Sean O’Sullivan and Jaeman Salmon to carry the load, and thankfully for the reigning premiers, these two players are yet to let their team down. Salmon has been a strong impact player off the bench all season while O’Sullivan has barely put a foot wrong when called upon this year.
This match is likely to come down to the forward packs, headlined by a brilliant battle in the front row between two of the premier props in the game in Joseph Tapine and James Fisher-Harris. Tapine is coming off a monumental effort in last week’s win over the Titans where he ran for 172 metres from 20 runs, including a whopping 13 tackle breaks. For the Panthers, Isaah Yeo will be extra important without their starting halves, especially in attack, with his ball playing and link up through the middle likely to be key to his team’s chances.Embed from Getty Images
The Panthers have enjoyed a solid record against the Raiders in recent years, winning eight of the past 12 matches between the two sides, most recently a big 36-6 victory back in round seven.
Panthers by 4
Follow Nothing But Rugby League on Facebook