MATCH PREVIEW | Canberra Raiders vs New Zealand Warriors

Andrew Pelechaty previews Canberra’s final regular season game at GIO Stadium, up against the NZ Warriors.

TEAM FORM GUIDE

Canberra Raiders 

Canberra (15-8) all but sealed their top four spot with a bizarre win over Cronulla-Sutherland at PointsBet Stadium. Canberra were up against it, facing a packed out pro-Sharks crowd (including Prime Minister Scott Morrison) hoping to celebrate Paul Gallen’s final home game. Trailing 12-0 at half time, Canberra could see their top four hopes slipping away. Just like their win against Melbourne a fortnight ago, Canberra rebounded in the second half and drew level with tries to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Nick Cotric (finishing an amazing 100 metre move). Three field goals to Aidan Sezer saw Canberra home 15-14 in Golden Point. While Canberra will likely finish third or fourth, if they lose to the Warriors at Bruce Stadium, and Manly-Warringah beat Parramatta, the Raiders could fall to fifth, but that seems unlikely.

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New Zealand Warriors

Starting with so much promise, the Warriors’ 25th anniversary season has been a failure, with an 8-14-1 record, losing 5 from their last 7. Their last loss was a 31-10 drubbing to Souths last weekend (tries to Adam Pompey and Ken Maumalo). They’ll be looking to finish this horror season with some pride so they can build towards 2020.

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SQUAD NEWS

Canberra Raiders 

Ricky’s rung the changes, with Charnze Nicholl-Klokstadd, Jordan Rapana, Sia Soliola and John Bateman rested. They’rereplaced by Bailey Simonsson (fullback), Michael Oldfield and Sebastian Kris (wings). Hudson Young starts in the back row, with Emre Guler and JJ Collins on the bench.

Canberra Raiders’ squad: 1. Bailey Simonsson 2. Michael Oldfield 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Nick Cotric 5. Sebastian Kris 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. JJ Collins 18. Sam Williams 19. Joseph Tapine 20. Jordan Rapana 21. Tom Starling.

New Zealand Warriors 

Adam Pompey and Blake Ayshford start in the centres, replacing the injured Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert. Chanel Harris-Tevita (arm) is out, with Bunty Afoa and Adam Keighran on the bench.

New Zealand Warriors’ squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Adam Pompey 4. Blake Ayshford 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Issac Luke 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Adam Blair 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Jazz Tevaga14. Lachlan Burr 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Ligi Sao 17. Adam Keighran18. Josh Curran 20. Taane Milne 21. Hayze Perham 22. Leivaha Pulu.

HEAD TO HEAD

Last start saw a big win to Canberra. Travelling to Mt Smart Stadium in round 20, the Raiders won 46-12. They scored eight tries, with two to Bailey Simonsson. The Warriors won both games last year (20-19 at Bruce, and 20-16 at Mt Smart). Overall, Canberra lead 22-19.

KEY BATTLE

Bailey Simonsson vs Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

With CNK rested before the finals, Bailey Simonsson comes into fullback. Like CNK, Simonsson’s had a cracking debut year, with 7 tries from 17 games. Keep that strike rate going and Canberra will be genuine premiership threats.

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The Warriors captain, Tuivasa-Sheck has done his best to lead by example during a rough year. He’s played all but one game, and not missed a minute on the field. He’s scored 6 tries, with 10 try assists, 13 line breaks, a 71 per cent tacking efficiency, and averaging over 200 running metres a game. If the Warriors are to upset Canberra, RTS will need to stand up.

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THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Saturday 7th September.
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra.
Kick-off: 3pm.

WHO WILL WIN?

Embiggened by their amazing win at Shark Park, and with a top four spot to play for, expect Canberra to finish the regular season with a big win.

Canberra by 18.

 

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