The Canberra Raiders NYC team will return off a bye to face a lowly ranked Canterbury Bulldogs side on Friday. As primetime Friday night football returns to GIO Stadium for the first time this year.
With both sides coming off three losses in three consecutive matches it’ll be an interesting encounter with Canberra’s young guns showing some promise in recent weeks.
However the Canberra side will be without their most recent halves pairing of Lachlan Lewis and Lachlan Croker, who instead will battle it out with each other in the u18’s State of Origin match and will in turn be rested by coach Mick Mantelli.
Croker will be a loss for the Raiders as he was just starting to show what he could do with three solid performances before the bye.
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However the side will be bolstered by the return of Andrew Heffernan from a long term ankle injury, and he will be partnered in the halves with Matthew Frawley who moves back into the half back position.
Dylan McGrath returns to starting hooker and Jono Kent will partner Jack Creith in the centres this weekend, while Scott Doyle returns from injury into the second row, with Jared McIlwrick moving to lock.
Thomas Cronan takes the place of Cleveland McGhie while Kilu Pangai and Ben Maguire have been added to a five man bench.
Canberra will be weary of the danger that the Bulldogs possess and despite the Canterbury side sitting at the bottom of the table with two wins there will be no place for arrogance.
Canterbury put in arguably one of their best performances last week against ladder leaders the Parramatta Eels going down 28-26 after leaving their run too late. With Canterbury scoring three tries in the final 25 minutes to close the gap.
The Raiders will be wary of Canterbury’s danger men front rower Herman Ese’ese and halfback Robbie Kamoto who were crucial in the fight back for the Bulldogs.
Canberra will still be reeling from letting an early lead slip from their last game against the Broncos. It was the best start that the Raiders have had all year, but they just simply were unable to get past the talented Brisbane outfit.
One area the Raiders could improve this week is in their goal kicking where they managed to convert just two of their six tries last time out.
Players to watch:
There are three players that will be looking to continue their recent form with perennial workhorse Mitchell Barnett claiming man of the match honours in his last two outings. He has been the back bone of the Raider’s pack this year, so expect nothing less than a big performance this week.
Lachlan Hurst is another who will be looking to continue on from a stellar four try performance before the bye. What impresses most about Hurst is his ability to contour his body to ensure he stays in the field of play when going for the try line.
Ricky Garard has been in great touch in recent weeks and his efforts in attack have seen the Raiders gain plenty of opportunities and good field position. The side is usually firing when Garard is playing well.
Despite their recent lack of form the Raiders sit just two games outside of the 8 and a win here will keep them in touch with eighth placed Penrith. The game against the Canterbury Bulldogs will kick off at 5:30pm at GIO Stadium.