It’s been something of a rollercoaster in Raider-land over the last five days. Saturday saw them lose to the Warriors, beaten by a mounting injury toll and some truly average officiating. The physical aftermath wasn’t all bad, with both Tapine and Scott having their initial diagnoses revised down to milder injuries. Both will still be out, but the timeframes are much more encouraging.
Coach Stuart does not yet have to dip into his stockpile to keep the Green Machine running. Hudson Young resumes his spot in the second row, meaning Kris can slot in at centre to cover Scott. Ryan James, Kris’s HIA tango partner returns to the bench, with Lui joining the starting 13 and Sutton stepping in for Tapine at lock.
In an alternate universe the Raiders demolished the Warriors in round 3. In this one however they lost, and find themselves up against a Titans outfit bursting with confidence after they bashed the Cowboys 44-8. The Titans are officially THE Queensland team to beat in 2021 – they’ve recruited well and Holbrook seems to have them sailing in the right direction.
The Titans have lost their home ground advantage with the Brisbane/Northern NSW Covid outbreak requiring them to shift to Kogarah, where they and the Raiders are act II in a double header after the Sharks/Cows clash.
BIG BOPPER WATCH
Dunamis Lui vs David Fifita
Lui found himself relegated to NSW cup duties last round and will no doubt be keen to demonstrate that he deserves a bench spot, at the very least. We know he’s capable of strong runs, and don’t be surprised if he tries to turn the tide with one of his patented steals. Fifita is enjoying football after escaping the sinking Broncos, and needs to be contained or he’ll punch holes in the Raiders line.
Wighton/Williams vs Boyd/Fogarty
The Wighton/Williams combo was much improved last week, evidenced in the first half as the Raiders ran in tries at will. Dan observed that the connections are strengthening in the playmakers triangle, something we hope to see more of this game. I know nought of young boys, but I’m pretty certain that Fogarty will be praying Papa doesn’t chase him again.
BACK IT UP
Sebastian Kris vs Philip Sami
After lasting less than a quarter last round Kris is back at centres (pending passing the HIA protocols). Stuart seems to be keen to get him as much game time as possible, and he’s repaying the faith through mature, consistent play. Kris has shown he can be solid in both defence and attack – look for him to be a threat if the Raiders can get an overlap. Sami shouldn’t be underestimated – he may not be an outright star but he has the speed to wrong foot lazy defenders.
BENCHMARK TO BEAT
Sia Soliola vs Sam Lisone
Soliola is straight impact off the pine, particularly when the starting props have found it hardgoing. He has a knack for taking runs back across the middle, tiring ruck defenders and leaving them vulnerable to quicker players. Lisone can generate momentum too, so the Raiders will need to neutralize any roll-on that he starts.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
The Raiders pipped the Titans twice in 2020, on both occasions with a differential of at least 18 points. It would be foolish to assume this outcome again, as the Titans appear to be much improved.
Raider #351 Brad Abbey
Abbey played just 9 games for the Green Machine across the 2018, bagging a solitary try. Prior to his Canberra stint he was a junior with the Warriors before joining the Bulldogs. Post-Raiders he linked with Wests before signing with the Roosters, where he now currently plays for the Bears (Roosters feeder club)
THE FINAL SIREN
Canberra have a good chance to right the longship in this round, but they need to be wary of a Titans squad that is beginning to dream. Special attention is required for Tino and Fifita – if the Raiders can slow these two they’ll go a long way in stifling the Titans attack.
Raiders by a hard-fought 10!