Junior Reps Preview: Round 4
Harold Matthews (Under 16s)
Canberra Raiders v Western Suburbs Magpies on Saturday at 1:00pm at Raiders Belconnen
The Raiders Harold Matthews side will face their biggest test so far this season when they face the Western Suburbs Magpies at Raiders Belconnen on Saturday.
Canberra and Western Suburbs are one of just three teams to remain undefeated after three rounds with the Raiders sitting at second place on the ladder and the Magpies in third spot.
The Raiders have been thoroughly impressive so far this season however Coach Adam Kyle has made it crystal clear to his side that there is still plenty of improvement left in them.
“We are really happy with the progress of the boys so far,” Kyle said. “This age group is their first taste of representative footy and the boys have handled themselves very well so far.
“Our defence has been a real highlight so far. We spent the first two months of pre-season working on technique and the boys have really bought into what we are trying to achieve.
“Our game play and understanding is the biggest thing we need to work on. It will be an ongoing process that we feel can get even better with more training and more knowledge about the game.”
Kyle believes that coming up against one of the competition’s best sides so early in the season will provide them with a gauge on where they are at.
“This week against the Magpies presents us with our hardest challenge so far. We came up against them last year and they were big, strong and very enthusiastic. We need to make sure we come prepared and out-enthuse them.
“It’s great for the boys to come up against one of the top teams so early in the year. Again, it will be a big learning curve for us as a group but one that we are prepared for.”
Fortunately, after three consecutive weeks on the road, the side will play their first match at home, something which Kyle believes will provide the Green Machine with a tremendous boost.
“We have really enjoyed the away games so far because it really brought us together as a group. The boys are a tight knit unit now but I’m sure that they will be very excited to get the opportunity over the next few weeks to be at home in front of family and friends. It would be great to get as many Raiders fans down to watch both grades play.”
The Raiders Harold Matthews and SG Ball sides now have five consecutive home games at Raiders Belconnen. Whilst it is likely that this run will provide them with the perfect opportunity to propel themselves into the finals, Kyle isn’t looking too far ahead.
“We can only take it week by week in this competition. We all understand that form means nothing in this competition and we need to be prepared to play hard games every week.”
SG Ball Cup (Under 18s)
Canberra Raiders v Western Suburbs Magpies on Saturday at 2:30pm at Raiders Belconnen
A win is vital for the Raiders SG Ball this Saturday to ensure they keep in touch with the other semi-finals contenders vying for a spot in the top eight.
Canberra, who is currently sitting in 8th position on the ladder, has an opportunity to not only leapfrog Western Suburbs but also several other teams that are locked on four competition points if they are to defeat the Magpies.
Conversely, the Raiders are also vulnerable to slipping out of the top eight with a defeat this weekend.
Like their Harold Matthews counterparts, the Canberra SG Ball side will also be playing the first of five matches in a row at Raiders Belconnen.
It is in this patch of home games that Coach Peter Marrapodi believes his side can further climb up the SG Ball ladder, although it will be no easy feat.
“We now have five games in a row at home but they are all against top rated opponents so we will only be looking ahead to one challenge at a time,” Marrapodi said. “This week we come up against very strong Wests outfit that is full of talent so we will need to be at the top of our game.”
Marrapodi will be looking for another dominant performance from his halves pairing of Jack Hickson and Lachlan Croker.
Hickson, a tenacious halfback, scored a double last week whilst Croker, who captains the side, is the reigning SG Ball Player of the Year and a highly influential figure in Canberra’s line-up.