2023 NRL Preview Round 2: Dolphins Vs Raiders

Andrew Pelechaty previews The Dolphins’ first official home game, hosting Canberra at Redcliffe.



The Dolphins Vs Canberra Raiders
Venue: Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe
Date: Saturday March 11, 5:30pm (AEDST), 4:30pm (QLD)


Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Brenko Lee 5. Tesi Niu 6. Isaiya Katoa 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Tom Gilbert 14. Connelly Lemuelu 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Mason Teague 17. Kurt Donoghoe 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. JJ Collins 20. Kodi Nikorima 21. Anthony Milford 22. Robert Jennings

Raiders: 1. Sebastian Kris 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Harley Smith-Shields 5. Albert Hopoate 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Pasami Saulo 9. Danny Levi 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Tom Starling 15. Ata Mariota 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Emre Guler 18. James Schiller 19. Matt Frawley 20. Zac Woolford 21. Trey Mooney 22. Peter Hola

Referee: Todd Smith

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This clash features two teams with surprise Round 1 results.

The Dolphins played their debut NRL game at Lang Park against the Sydney Roosters. With the Eastern Suburbs club one the premiership favourites, few expected The Dolphins to get near them once the initial emotion wore off. But The Dolphins surprised with a 28-18 win, highlighted by 16 points to Jamayne Isaako (two tries and four goals). And Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will forever be the trivia answer of “Who was The Dolphins’ first tryscorer?” The Dolphins showed plenty of composure as the Roosters got within 10 with 13 minutes left, especially as the expansion club has been criticised for failing to sign a marquee name (not through lack of trying) and were expected to finish in the bottom four.

Canberra went to Townsville with equally minimal expectations – missing Xavier Savage, Josh Papalii, and on the back of some horrendous trial form. With North Queensland up 18-0, it looked like a long afternoon for the Raiders. But Canberra showed heart and tenacity in the heat and humidity – levelling the scores through Emre Guler, Tom Starling, and Jack Wighton. They held the Cowboys to just one point in the second half – but that Chad Townsend field goal was enough, with Canberra bombing a few late opportunities. The Cowboys’ three tries came in a 19-minute period – otherwise Canberra’s defence was perfect. But they’ll be without Jordan Rapana (with Albert Hopoate replacing him on the wing) and Papalii for the Redcliffe trip.

The Raiders’ last Redcliffe game was against the Warriors in Round 8 last year. Though this was a comically bad Raiders side, losing their fifth straight game (21-20) by blowing a 20-12 half-time lead, and the implication of a second wooden spoon. The Raiders recovered from this embarrassment, winning 12 of their next 16 to make the finals.

As for the Dolphins, can they come down from the emotional highs of Lang Park? A long season awaits, so – while they have plenty of experience – they’ll need to quickly get used to the weekly grind. The occasional of the first official home game will give them plenty of motivation, so there’s no excuses to be flat. Surely Master Coach Wayne Bennett will have a few tricks to get his boys ready? Their only change from the Roosters game is Mason Teague replacing Ray Stone in the starting 17.

From Canberra’s perspective, it’s a good thing The Dolphins have already won a game. The Raiders have a nasty habit of ‘playing down’ against teams they should beat comfortably, so playing a Dolphins side coming off a win ensures there’s no sub-conscious complacency from Canberra.

Expect a tough, grinding game, with Canberra sticking to simple, conservative footy in attack and repeating the desperate defence they showed for most of the Cowboys game. The Dolphins showed they can play with flair – scoring five tries against the powerful Roosters – so playing attacking footy could be the key to beating the Raiders grind. But Canberra should just squeak home.


Raiders 0, Dolphins 0


Raiders by four points.

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