Mark Barnes previews the Sunday clash between the Canberra Raiders and St George-Illawarra Dragons at GIO Stadium.
Canberra Raiders v St. George-Illawarra Dragons
Venue: GIO Stadium
Date: Sunday August 14, 2:00pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Raiders: 1. Xavier Savage 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Emre Guler 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. James Schiller 19. Ata Mariota 20. Matt Frawley 21. Peter Hola 22. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Joe Tapine (ribs) is out which is a huge loss as arguably the in form prop of the NRL season. Emre Guler is named to start at prop in Tapine’s place and Corey Horsburgh joins the bench. Xavier Savage (ankle) bolsters the Raiders spine slotting back into Fullback with his return allowing Albert Hopoate to slide to the wing in place of Nick Cotric (suspended).Embed from Getty Images
Dragons: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Jack Bird 4. Zac Lomax 5. Tautau Moga 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Jack de Belin 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Josh Mcguire 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Michael Molo 14. Tyrell Sloan 15. Aaron Woods 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Billy Burns 18. Jayden Sullivan 19. Jackson Ford 20. Jaiyden Hunt 21. Cody Ramsey 22. Jack Gosiewski
Tariq Sims (suspended) is out after his tackle that saw him sin binned and Connor Tracey knocked out of the game in round 21. Josh McGuire starts on an edge for the Dragons. Michael Molo is named to start at lock. Tyrell Fuimaono joins the bench. Cody Ramsey is in the reserves giving him a chance to return which is looming as likely.
Referee: Adam Gee
This is a match that really looms as a battle for the fringe top eight teams with the Raiders in ninth and Dragons in eleventh so its season defining for both clubs. Time is running out for both teams, who simply must win when they battle it out in the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon.
The Raiders have the better odds of making the finals, sitting two points behind the eighth-placed Roosters and with their final four opponents all currently sitting in the bottom half of the ladder. Their chances haven’t been helped with coach Ricky Stuart’s ban for his controversial comments about Penrith’s Jaeman Salmon in the post-match press conference.
Joseph Tapine will be a huge loss for the Raiders as he’s found career best from and been very hard for opposition forward packs to handle. His absence will put huge pressure on Josh Papali’i who’s minutes have been climbing along with his form scoring the first try last week and primed for a big match.
The other players needed to fire for the Raiders to get the crucial win are their playmakers. The raiders only managed six points last week in the ninth minute and then didn’t trouble the scoreboard again.
While the return of young Savage will provide some strike, it’s Jack Wighton all eyes will be on as he’s been hit and miss in creating opportunities and his once dominant running game hasn’t seen him score a try since round 8 of the competition.
After falling 24-18 to Cronulla last week, the Dragons would need to run the table and have results go its way to be any chance of final football, with a loss this week killing all hopes of September footy.
With the Raiders down a couple of starters and not having the dominant record at home they used to, the Dragons should have ample chance to get the points. The Dragons’ attack has only scored more than 20 points once in their last six games and the last matchups between these teams ended in a gruelling 12-10 Dragons victory. So, this one shapes as a likely low scoring affair.
If the Dragons can put points on it seems to point towards ensuring a victory and much of that will come down to superstar Been Hunt once again.
Should Cody Ramsey be a late inclusion, it may help the captain with some extra strike the Dragons are in desperate need of. The Dragons forwards even with Sims have been average, and against a strong Raiders pack that’s going to be the other challenge for them to get the victory.Embed from Getty Images
The Raiders have a 60% win percentage against the Dragons, their highest of any opposition.
Seven of the past nine matchups between these clubs have been decided by eight or less so it projects as a high contest.
The Dragons have only won one of their last five matchups and against the Raiders just four of the last 15 matches at GIO Stadium with their last win in Canberra coming in 2015.
Raiders by 4.
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