Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers on Saturday at 5:30pm at Sportingbet Stadium

It’s Heritage Round this week in the NRL and you couldn’t pick two more fitting adversaries to celebrate the round than the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers.

The two combatants enjoyed a fierce rivalry in the early 1990s which was highlighted by the 1990 and 1991 Grand Final.

With the ledger tied up at 31 wins apiece, it sets the stage for another classic battle between the two clubs.

As has been the case with Canberra’s opponents for the majority of the year, the Panthers are coming off a disappointing loss to local rivals the Parramatta Eels and Assistant Coach Matt Parish believes the Raiders will need to prepare for a fired up Panthers outfit looking to make amends.

“We do seem to come up against teams looking to bounce back,” Parish said. “Penrith will come out fired up for this match. It’s Heritage Round and they were pretty ordinary against Parramatta and will be looking to make up for that in front of their home fans.

“Penrith have got a lot of quality players coming back into their team also with Peter Wallace, Tim Grant and Josh Mansour returning so they will be tough to beat.”

The Green Machine enjoyed a brilliant 30-18 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 4 and there has been a great vibe around the club this week with combinations and confidence starting to flourish.

“We played really well on the weekend but we need to get some consistency and string a couple of wins together now,” Parish said. “We’re going up there with a lot of confidence in our ability and a hunger to get the two points to help celebrate this club’s rich history.”

The Raiders didn’t have it all their way in the contest against Souths, losing forward leaders Shaun Fensom and Joel Edwards throughout the match.

This required the club’s remaining forwards, namely Jarrad Kennedy and Paul Vaughan, to stand up and be counted for.

Given the result and the impressive statistics they complied, it was clear that the up and coming duo stood tall for Canberra and the way in which they handled the large amount of game time on offer has done wonders for their confidence.

The rise of Kennedy and Vaughan, the form of the club’s established forwards along with the return of Fensom and Edwards has provided the side with a tremendous boost leading into this Saturday.

Fensom and Edwards’ availability means that Ricky Stuart, in his 250th match as coach, was able to name an unchanged line-up for the clash. A fitting round to accomplish this feat for one of the club’s greats.

To mark the Heritage Round, the Raiders will be wearing a specially designed legacy jersey. The jersey features the name of every player to have played for the club up until 2013.

To purchase a jersey head to: http://weareraiders.com.au/benefits/featured/

Key Matchups:

Anthony Milford v Matthew Moylan

Despite their age, Milford and Moylan have progressed to be highly influential components of their team’s structure and as evidenced over the opening four rounds of 2014, match-winners.

The Raiders have won two from four matches this year and Milford has been at the forefront of both victories.

In the Round 2 win over the Knights Milford engineered the match-winning try for Paul Vaughan whilst last week over the Rabbitohs the try he scored and the two that he set up for Reece Robinson in the first half laid the platform for the victory.

The composure, time and skill that Moylan provides Penrith is invaluable. He too has proved his match-winning capability this season by slotting a sideline conversion to steal the two points from the Bulldogs in Round 3, to cap off a terrific all-round performance.

Both custodians will need to be closely marked by their respective opposition.

Jarrod Croker v Jamal Idris

The battle of opposition centres Croker and Idris will be one of contrasting styles with the guile and speed of Croker matched up with the height and raw power of Idris.

Both players are noted try scores however Croker has the wood on Idris so far in 2014 having already scored four tries in as many appearances.

Croker was disappointed with his quiet performance against the Rabbitohs and is determined to rediscover the form he displayed in the previous three matches.

Whether it is in the air or with ball in hand, Idris is a strike player for the Panthers and one player that must be watched carefully by the Raiders, particularly his opposite number Croker.

Josh McCrone v James Segeyaro

The impact of interchange hookers McCrone and Segeyaro will be decisive in this encounter.

Although new to the position in a full-time capacity, McCrone has been outstanding so far this season. The energy and creativity that McCrone provides the Raiders when he comes onto the field in the latter stages of each half has been an impressive facet of the sides play.

Whilst McCrone is new to the role, Segeyaro has held the role of impact hooker for a number of years now. The former Cowboy is lightning quick out of dummy half and possesses an ability to make a mockery of opposition team’s ruck defence.

With both sides possessing large forward packs, the speed and footwork of McCrone and Segeyaro could prove pivotal.

Stat Attack:

Last 3 results:

- Canberra defeated Penrith 24-12 at GIO Stadium Canberra on June 15 2013

- Penrith defeated Canberra 32-10 at Sportingbet Stadium on March 10 2013

- Canberra defeated Penrith 20-10 at Sportingbet Stadium on August 12 2012

Record against the Panthers:

Penrith and Canberra were adversaries in the early 1990s and as they meet once again this Saturday, the ledger is all tied-up at 31 apiece and their tries are level too!

Milestones:

Ricky Stuart will reach his 250th match as an NRL Coach this Saturday against the Panthers.

They said it:

Matt Parish: “It’s always good to be able to name the same 17 each week to get a bit of continuity going in the team. Both our feeder sides – Mounties and Souths Logan – have been playing well also so there’s plenty of competition for spots at an NRL level and that’s very healthy for the club.”

http://www.raiders.com.au/news/2014/04/01/round_5_team_talk_with_matt_parish.html

Jarrod Croker: “I’ve got big Jamal on my side and we always have a good tussle every time we come up against each other. He’s a quality player who’s represented NSW and Australia so it will be a good challenge for me. They’re the big players that you like testing yourself against.”

Terry Campese: “There is a lot of pride in wearing a jersey with the name of every Raiders player on it. I love the jersey and I know that when it came out there were a lot of ex-players ringing up the club wanting to purchase one. There’s a proud history at this club and we need to celebrate that with a win this Saturday.”

http://www.raiders.com.au/news/2014/04/02/campese_unveils_raiders_heritage_jersey.html

Joel Edwards: “Our left edge of myself, Jack Wighton and Jarrod Croker have found a nice combination and we’ll be working hard for each other to make sure that it continues to develop.”

http://www.raiders.com.au/news/2014/04/02/play_of_the_week_joel_edwards.html

Bill Tupou: “I was disappointed in myself for dropping the ball over the line last week. I’m lucky that Ricky has shown faith in me and I can’t wait to get out there this weekend and make up for it.”