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Match Preview: Raiders v Eels

Zachary Gates

Rd11NRL preview

The Raiders will be looking to bounce back against the Parramatta Eels, after three straight losses. Read our comprehensive match preview. 

The Canberra Raiders will look to mark Jarrod Croker’s 200th appearance with a win when they meet the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

Ricky Stuart’s men will have to arrest a three-game losing streak if they are to make the skipper’s milestone game one to savour, but they showed at home in Round 5 that they have the strike power to overcome the Eels when they disposed of them 30-18.

Canberra’s behemoth forward pack will need to replicate its metre-eating ways from its 12-point win over Brad Arthur’s men if they are to rain on Parramatta’s home parade.

The battle of the forwards was one the Raiders lost in their 34-20 loss to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, but the return of linchpin second-row Josh Papalii will be sure to add wind to the pack’s sails.

The return of the Queensland representative has shifted Luke Bateman to the bench and Dunamis Lui back to the reserves in the Raiders’ only team change.

The Raiders are perched in 10th on the ladder on eight premiership points but own the sixth-best percentage in the competition, meaning the Green Machine will have a chance of climbing back into the top eight in Round 11.

Last Time

A 69th-minute try to blossoming winger Nick Cotric propelled Canberra to its 30-18 win over Parramatta when the two last crossed swords.

After having led 22-6 at the main break, the visitors came out all guns blazing to reel the deficit back to 22-18 before the men in green revealed their fangs.

Key Matchups

Aidan Sezer v Michell Moses

Dominating headlines in NRL circles this week is the arrival of fancied playmaker Mitchell Moses to Parramatta.

The former Tiger is set to replace the injured Corey Norman (knee) in donning Eels colours for the first time on Saturday, opening the door for Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer to lead his side in exploiting Parramatta’s new-look right edge.

Sezer’s expert kicking game and setting up of Croker and Cotric on the Raiders’ left edge again fare as critical aspects of the side’s game ahead of its trip to Sydney.

Joey Leilua v Michael Jennings

With the opening edition of State of Origin just a matter of sleeps away, Joey Leilua’s matchup with opposition centre Michael Jennings fares as a thrilling encounter as both are considered contenders for Laurie Daley’s Blues.

Leilua’s 2017 highlights reel gleams with a deft no-look pass to outside man Jordan Rapana against the Eels in Round 5 that ignited a long-range team try, the New South Wales hopeful then bagging a four-pointer of his own three minutes later.

His brute strength will come face-to-face with the speed and agility of Jennings.

Sia Soliola v Beau Scott

Two old heads will square off on Saturday in a pivotal battle off the bench between Sia Soliola and Beau Scott.

Soliola has proven one of the Raiders’ best performers amid their indifferent start to their 2017 campaign, providing a wealth of spark off the bench through testings hit-ups and being a workhorse in defence. The 30-year-old’s experience will again be central to Canberra’s fortunes on the weekend given the side’s raft of young forwards stamped with names like Junior Paulo, Shannon Boyd and Joe Tapine. The Raiders actually drew first blood through Soliola in their last meeting with the Eels when the State of Mind Ambassador pounced on a well-weighted Sezer grubber five minutes into the contest.

On the other side of the ledger, Scott’s tough-as-nails approach shapes as a vital aspect of Parramatta’s fortunes. This is especially the case given his side is in search of the defensive fight that went adrift in its 48-10 demolition at the hands of a rampant Sydney Roosters outfit on the weekend.

Quote of the Week

“I’m sure the boys will lift that extra bit. A lot of the boys who have played a milestone games this year we’ve been able to get a win for them. ‘Crokes’ has definitely been a big part of this club and for him to play 200 games at that age is outstanding.”

Junior Paulo

Head to Head

The Raiders and the Eels have clashed on 55 occassions and there is almost nothing to split the sides with the Raiders winning 28 matches opposed to 27 wins for the Eels . However, the Raiders have claimed eight wins in the last ten matches between the sides.

Team Lists

As of Tuesday, May 16

Canberra Raiders Parramatta Eels
1. Jack Wighton 1. Bevan French
2. Nick Cotric 2. Semi Radradra
3. Jarrod Croker © 3. Michael Jennings
4. Joey Leilua 4. Kirisome Auva'a
5. Jordan Rapana 5. Josh Hoffman
6. Blake Austin 6. Clint Gutherson
7. Aidan Sezer 7. Will Smith
8. Junior Paulo 8. Suaia Matagi
9. Josh Hodgson  9. Kaysa Pritchard
10. Shannon Boyd 10. Tim Mannah (c)
11. Josh Papalii 11. Manu Ma'u
12. Elliott Whitehead 12. Tepai Moeroa
13. Joe Tapine 13. Nathan Brown
Interchange Interchange
14. Adam Clydsdale 14. Beau Scott (c)
15. Luke Bateman 15. Daniel Alvaro
16. Clay Priest 16. Kenny Edwards
17. Sia Soliola 17. Siosaia Vave
Reserves Reserves
18. Dunamis Lui 18. David Gower
19. Jordan Turner 19. Rory O'Brien
20. Dave Taylor 20. Brad Takairangi
21. Scott Sorensen 21. Mitchell Moses