2024 NRL: Magic Round Preview, Raiders Vs Bulldogs

Check out the match preview and prediction for the Magic Round clash between the Canberra Raiders and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.



Canberra Raiders Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Date: Friday May 17, 6:00pm


Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Xavier Savage 6. Ethan Strange 7. Kaeo Weekes 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Danny Levi 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Morgan Smithies 14. Tom Starling 15. Ata Mariota 16. Trey Mooney 17. Emre Guler 18. Albert Hopoate 19. Zac Woolford 20. Simi Sasagi 21. Peter Hola 22. Hohepa Puru

Bulldogs: 1. Connor Tracey 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Drew Hutchison 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Samuel Hughes 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Jaeman Salmon 13. Kurt Mann 14. Bailey Hayward 15. Josh Curran 16. Kurtis Morrin 17. Jacob Preston 19. Poasa Faamausili 20. Blake Taaffe 21. Jake Turpin 22. Toby Sexton 23. Blake Wilson

Referee: Ashley Klein

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Fresh off the bye and reports that coach Ricky Stuart is set to extend his contract to the end of the decade, the youthful Raiders kick-off Magic Round aiming to maintain their spot in the top 8 and become the second team (after South Sydney) to record four consecutive Magic Round victories.

There will be more motivation for Canberra than that though, who will also be celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 1994 premiership against Canterbury. On that occasion, the Raiders belted the Bulldogs 36-12 to claim their third (and most recent) title.

On the other side of the fence, the resurgent Bulldogs will be looking to bounce from their narrow loss to Penrith last weekend and return to the top 8. There will be plenty of focus on Matt Burton who has returned to State of Origin conversations in part due to the injury crisis which has hit New South Wales halves hopefuls Nathan Cleary, Mitchell Moses, and Nicho Hynes, but also due to his good form thus far in 2024.

In some good news for the Raiders, Jordan Rapana returns to the side at fullback after six weeks out with a knee injury, pushing Albert Hopoate to 18th man. Josh Papalii has also been named to start at prop having come off the bench in their comeback win over Manly two weeks ago, with Emre Guler going the other way.

Despite going down to Penrith in their last start, Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo has kept the faith in the squad that took the field, naming an unchanged 17.

This match will mark the third Magic Round meeting of Canberra and Canterbury, with the Raiders coming away with victories on both previous occasions (20-18 in 2021 and 34-30 in 2023). Interestingly, despite this match-up being identical to 2023, the two teams will be in opposite sheds as Canberra plays as the home side at Magic Round for the first time, while Canterbury makes their first appearance as the away side.

Canterbury holds the overall advantage in matches between the two sides, winning 37 to Canberra’s 36. That tally has evened up dramatically in recent years, with the Raiders winning 10 out of the 11 matches between the two since 2016, including eight-straight since 2018. The Raiders have won all three matches between the two sides away from their respective home states/territories, adding an 18-14 victory at the WACA in 1989 (also the first-ever premiership match outside NSW or Queensland) to the two Magic Round results.

The Raiders are one of the most successful clubs at Magic Round, being one of six clubs to have won at least three of their four matches (their only loss came against the Roosters at the inaugural Magic Round in 2019). They have also scored the third-most points at Magic Round in years gone by, having scored 108 points at an average of 27 per game.

It’s a far cry from the record of the Bulldogs, who have lost each of the four Magic Round games they’ve played (the Dragons are the only other side still winless at Magic Round), although only by a margin of seven points. The average margin in Magic Round matches between these two teams is a mere three points.

Despite having lost all four Magic Round games and all four away games in 2024, the Bulldogs will be confident of nudging the iceberg to victory over an undermanned Raiders side, although it won’t be easy.

Head-to-head stats can be found at Magic Round Number Crunch.


Check out all the NRL Predictions for Magic Round here.

Bulldogs by 4 points.

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