2023 NRL Preview Round 3: Raiders Vs Sharks

Andrew Pelechaty previews Canberra’s return home – hosting the Sharks at GIO Stadium Canberra.



Canberra Raiders Vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Date: Sunday March 19, 6:15pm


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. Trey Mooney 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Emre Guler 18. Zac Woolford 19. Matt Frawley 20. James Schiller 21. Semi Valemei 22. Peter Hola

Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Royce Hunt 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Jack Williams 18. Connor Tracey 19. Thomas Hazelton 20. Mawene Hiroti 21. Jayden Berrell 22. Daniel Atkinson

Referee: Ashley Klein

Embed from Getty Images


What a difference a week makes.

After Round 1, Canberra were feted for their brave comeback against North Queensland, while Cronulla-Sutherland lost a blockbuster home game against Souths (who also eliminated them from the 2022 finals).

In Round 2, the Sharks won a high-scoring battle against Parramatta (30-26), while the Raiders lost in horrendous conditions at Redcliffe (20-14). All of the positive vibes from Raiders fans had vanished, while Sharks fans would have felt a lot better about themselves.

Looking at Canberra’s draw (with games against Penrith at Bruce at Brisbane at Lang Park), this game becomes crucial, otherwise the Raiders could only have a couple wins heading into their Round 8 bye.

On paper, Canberra should have never lost to The Dolphins – they led 12-0 shortly before half-time, had 52% possession overall, and an 82% completion rate. But their at-time horrible attack and poor fifth tackle options allowed The Dolphins to absorb the pressure despite losing Jeremy Marshall-King to the sin bin. A controversial try to Tom Gilbert tied the scores at 12-12 with 18 minutes left and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s second try sealed the win in the closing minutes (which was 12-on-12 after Hudson Young and Sean O’Sullivan were sin binned). Though Raiders fans could feel hard done by when a Nick Cotric try early in the second half was denied, which could have put the game out of reach.

Much happier days for the Sharks, with a William Kennedy hat-trick highlighting their win over Parramatta, scoring in the 18th, 36th, and 55th minutes. By the time he was done, the Sharks led 24-20, with Ronaldo Mulitalo’s 60th minute try giving them a 10-point buffer.

While the Raiders have won eight of their last 10 against the Sharks, six of those wins were by 12 points or less. Canberra pipped the Sharks late in Round 1 last year, with Young getting the Raiders home 24-19. Then the Raiders backed it up in Magic Round, winning 30-10 (a rare victory in Queensland).

Even without Nicho Hynes, Sharks will fancy going to Bruce Stadium and taking advantage of a Raiders side weary after two weeks in Queensland, feeling downbeat following two close losses, and missing Jordan Rapana, Josh Papalii, and Ata Mariota.

The Raiders can’t afford to keep squandering scoring chances like they did against The Dolphins – the Sharks have scored 48 points so far, so they’ll punish Canberra if given the chance. Canberra will need to grind it out, be disciplined, and make sure the Sharks don’t get away.


Raiders 8, Sharks 2.


Sharks by 18 points.

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