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NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Roosters

Zachary Gates

NRL Preview RD12

The Canberra Raiders will be on the hunt for their second win on the trot when they face the Sydney Roosters at GIO Stadium this Sunday afternoon.

Having celebrated Jarrod Croker's 200th NRL appearance with a win against the Eels last weekend, Sunday will give the club’s Canberra-based fans the chance to celebrate the skipper’s milestone at home.

Canberra fans could also witness Croker bring up 1500 career points on Sunday as the 26-year-old will head into the game sitting just four points shy.

Croker is no stranger to making happy memories in clashes with the Bondi-based outfit, having made his debut and having played his 100th NRL game against the Roosters.  

Making the clash all the more special an occasion is that major sponsor Huawei has allowed the Ricky Stuart Foundation to replace its logo on the front of the jersey to raise awareness for #AutismWellbeing.

Stuart said the club is very pleased to be supporting the Foundation and that the Raiders are very thankful for Huawei.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we’re promoting such a special cause,” he said.

“The Foundation is very, very privileged and also appreciative of the fact that Huawei give up the jumper.”

Huawei will offer up the front of the jersey for the second time in the last 12 months in a match in which forward Sia Soliola will run out for his 250th NRL/Super League game.

Meanwhile, the Raiders will be without second-row Josh Papalii, who is set to run out for Queensland in the first edition of State of Origin next Wednesday night.

Joe Tapine will fill Papalii’s giant boots in the second-row jersey, while Sia Soliola will slot into lock as Luke Bateman returns from a one-week lay-off due to concussion.

Last Time

The Raiders snared a thrilling 21-20 win over the Roosters when the two sides last met in Round 2 of last season.

Having been down 16-6. the Raiders fought back valliantly before a field goal on the verge of fulltime from Sam Williams sealed the win.

Key Matchups

Jack Wighton v Michael Gordon

A crucial matchup in Sunday’s clash shapes as that of Jack Wighton and Michael Gordon, two fullbacks who play important roles in both attack and defence.

Wighton re-signed with the Raiders until the end of the 2020 season earlier in the week and will be wanting to put in a good performance against Trent Robinson's men. He will again have to link well in attack on both the left and right edges and hold his own in defence on Sunday, two things he has ensured in the early stages of 2017.

Staring him down at the other end of the park will be the points-happy Gordon, an NRL journeyman who has no trouble finding the white line and nailing kicks from the tee. Heading into Round 12, Gordon sits atop the points-scored tally with Cronulla’s James Maloney on 90 points. How heavy an impact he has on the scoreboard on Sunday fares as a pivotal aspect of the outcome of the game.

Aidan Sezer v Luke Keary

The classy boot of Aidan Sezer will square off with the dangerous running and passing games of Luke Keary when the two 25-year-old halfbacks meet in the nation’s capital.

The fact the Raiders’ forward pack has lost Papalii and the Roosters’ Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra and Dylan Napa means metres could be hard to come by on Sunday, placing more responsibility in the hands of Sezer and Keary.

It will be interesting to see how Keary fares without the direction and poise of New South Wales Number 7 Mitchell Pearce, something that could see Sezer take the upper hand in the battle of the halfbacks.

Junior Paulo v Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

As key men in their team's packs, the battle between man-monsters Junior Paulo and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves looms as a key battle this Sunday.

Paulo has been one of the Raiders’ best players amid the side’s patchy start to its 2017 campaign, making mountains of metres and absorbing plenty in defence to attract genuine Origin discussion.

The Samoa superhuman will cross swords with a Kiwi kryptonite riding a wave of formidable form. Waerea-Hargreaves has amassed a combined 377 metres from his last two outings, 200 of which came in his side’s 48-10 demolition of Parramatta in Round 10.

But if anyone is capable of quelling the impact of Waerea-Hargreaves it’s a 123-kilogram tenpin bowling ball in the mould of a giant like Paulo.

Quote of the Week

“It's exciting to be back home and hopefully we get a massive crowd out there [at GIO Stadium]"

Croker on the prospect of playing at GIO Stadium this weekend

Head-to-Head

The Roosters lead the head-to-head 32-26 from the 58 times the two sides have squared off, although the Raiders have won the last three times they have met in Canberra.

 

 

Team Lists

As of Tuesday 23, May

Canberra Raiders Sydney Roosters
1. Jack Wighton 1. Michael Gordon
2. Nick Cotric 2. Daniel Tupou
3. Jarrod Croker (C) 3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Joey Leilua 4. Mitchell Aubusson
5. Jordan Rapana 5. Joseph Manu
6. Blake Austin 6. Connor Watson 
7. Aidan Sezer 7. Luke Keary
8. Junior Paulo 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Josh Hodgson  9. Jake Friend (c)
10. Shannon Boyd 10. Kane Evans
11. Joe Tapine 11. Ryan Matterson
12. Elliott Whitehead 12. Siosiua Taukeiaho
13. Sia Soliola 13. Zane Tetevano
Interchange Interchange
14. Adam Clydsdale 14. Isaac Liu
15. Luke Bateman 15. Lindsay Collins
16. Clay Priest 16. Chris Smith
17. Dunamis Lui 17. Mitchell Cornish
18. Dave Taylor  18. Nat Butcher
19. Scott Sorensen 19. Victor Radley
20. Brent Naden 20. Eloni Vunakece
21. Lachlan Croker 21. Brock Gray