Andrew Pelechaty previews the final game of the 2022 regular season: the Wests Tigers vs the Canberra Raiders…
Wests Tigers Vs Canberra Raiders
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.
Date: Sunday September 4, 4:05pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Tigers: 1. Daine Laurie 2. Brent Naden 3. Starford To’a 4. Luke Garner 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Jock Madden 8. James Tamou 9. Jake Simpkin 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Thomas Freebairn 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Fa’amanu Brown 14. Fonua Pole 15. Zane Musgrove 16. Tyrone Peachey 17. Austin Dias 18. Jacob Liddle 19. Junior Pauga 20. James Roberts 21. Henry O’Kane 22. Brandon Mansfield
James Tamou returns in what could be his final game; Ken Maumalo returns on the wing while Jacob Liddle is 18th Man.Embed 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 Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Albert Hopoate 19. Ata Mariota 20. Matt Frawley 21. Peter Hola 22. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Just one change for Canberra: Nick Cotric comes in for Albert Hopoate (18th Man).
Referee: Gerard Sutton
In a dream scenario for the NRL, the final regular season game could decide the top eight.
A month ago, Canberra’s season looked done: a “weak-gutted dog” loss to Penrith, and scratchy wins over St George Illawarra and Newcastle suggested they’d left their run too late.
Then Brisbane lost 60-12 to Melbourne and 53-6 to Parramatta, opening the door for Canberra to slide into eighth after they thrashed Manly Warringah 48-6 at Bruce Stadium (their biggest win since beating the Warriors 46-12 in 2019).
While Canberra have had a frustrating habit of falling away when they’ve needed to win, their decimation of Manly (a team they’ve struggled against) suggested they’re finally ready to go. Making the finals will be an incredible achievement for the Milk, as they were 2-6 and wooden spoon contenders in late April.
What about the Tigers? While they’ve lost four straight, they rebounded from the SCG debacle to push the Dragons, leading 16-6 (33 minutes) and 22-16 (65 minutes), before Jackson Ford scored to level it up. There was another controversial finish (because they haven’t suffered enough this season), with Asu Kepaoa sin-binned for a high tackle, allowing Zac Lomax to kick the winning penalty goal. To kick the poor Tigers further in the guts, the Titans’ big win all but guaranteed the joint-venture club the wooden spoon.
Amazingly, in a season where some teams have played each other twice in the space of a month, this is the first Tigers-Raiders clash since Round 1, 2021. And the Tigers’ Leichhardt advantage probably isn’t that great: it’s just their third game there this season (beating Canterbury-Bankstown and losing to Parramatta).
How motivated will the Tigers be (even with potentially farewelling James Tamou)? Will they already have one foot on the plane to Bali?
The Tigers have the equal worst final round record from the past ten seasons, while Canberra are five from 10.
Canberra’s attitude may depend on Saturday night’s Dragons vs Broncos game: a Dragons win ensures Canberra finishes eighth (unless the Tigers beat Canberra by 50+), while a Broncos win means Canberra will have to beat the Tigers.
Assuming this game is still “live”, then expect Canberra to build off last weekend’s win and qualify for the finals in the 11th hour.Embed from Getty Images
The Wests Tigers and Canberra last played on Sunday, September 4th in 2016, also at Leichhardt Oval. Canberra won 52-10 to finish in second place.
Raiders by 18.
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