The Raiders take the jump across the ditch to face the Warriors on their home turf this week, an away game which is on par with Canberra stadium as an unenviable task. While the Warriors currently hold 7th spot on the ladder they are also the highest ranked team with a negative for and against – the only team below them in the black are the Raiders in 10th spot.
Saturday’s game therefore represents a crucial opportunity for the Raiders to not only leap frog back up the ladder but to also solidify a position in the top 8. The Green Machine ran out of luck in the dying seconds against the Cowboys, but there’s no denying the tremendous effort they put in over the 80 minutes to force that outcome.
The Warriors ended up destroying the Titans 36-14, but the majority of those points came in the last quarter of the game when the Titans effectively gave up and allowed Johnson room for magic acts. In the Raiders they face a much more confident and determined foe.
Big Three – Raiders
Jordan Rapana: With 160 metres, 0 missed tackles, 2 line breaks and a try assist to his name against the Cowboys Rapana was one of Canberra’s best. A lot of his metres came from kick returns and early tackle count hit ups, where he and Eddy Lee effectively combined to get the Raiders out of their own 40 as quickly as possible.
Sam Williams: Williams had the kind of kicking game that makes me want to cry tears of joy. His touch finders were the text book definition of calm, collected controlling kicks, whilst his cross-field chip/bombs were perfectly timed. He also demonstrated a propensity for running the ball, never a bad thing in a #7.
Sia Soliola: Sia gets the nod not just for his tireless defensive work but also his last gasp double effort in charging down JT’s first two cracks at the game winner. While his run metres were less than usual he was superb in keeping the Raiders defence going until the end.
Big Three – Warriors
Manu Vatuvei: The Beast is now the Warriors top try-scorer of all time, and although he remained try-less against the Titans it won’t stay that way for long. A damaging runner when given room to move, the Raiders will need to restrict his ball time.
Shaun Johnson: Johnson carved the Titans like so much roast turkey, scoring twice against them last weekend. His dynamic footwork is the stuff of nightmares for the opposition, especially in broken field play. 116 sounds like a forwards run stats, but they’re what he clocked up against the Gold Coast.
Ben Matulino: Matulino clocked up a crazy 222 metres off 21 runs last weekend, easily averaging 10 metres per carry. Combined with Jacob Lillyman (204/20) they accounted for 426 of the Warriors 1788 metres.
You Wot Mate?
Jonathon Thurston took a shot at the Raiders for being offside in the dying moments of last week’s game which is funny, because he spent a fair bit of time also being offside. Not to mention his two hopeless challenges on Raiders trying to take a catch – his shot on Rapana was woeful and easily deserving of a sin bin (so was Blake Austin’s brain snap leg hold). The NRL still has a way to go when it comes to subconscious referee bias.
The Raiders repeat their tough defence from last week and secure a much needed win, triggering a long awaited run to the finals!