NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Tigers
Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers on Saturday at 5:30pm at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
The Raiders will travel up the Hume Highway to take on the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the Green Machine looks to translate their improving form into a victory.
Canberra’s form has been steadily improving over the last few weeks as evidenced by their ability to match it with some of the best teams in the competition. However the fact remains that the side has lost six from their last seven appearances and haven’t won away from home since they trumped the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in Round 4.
One of the main factors in the Raiders’ inability to seal a win has been the errors registered by the side. Against the Bulldogs last weekend, the Raiders registered a whopping 15 errors, many of which were unforced.
As such, eliminating careless errors has been a major focus for the side this week.
“Our errors have been letting us down lately and if we fix them we will start to get the results that we need,” Assistant Coach Dean Pay said.
“Although we didn’t get the result we were looking for against the Bulldogs I thought there were some really good periods of play for us, especially in the first 30 minutes. It’s just little things that are letting us down like miss-reads in defence and turning the ball over when we don’t need to.
“The frustrating bit about it is that we are competing well with very good teams but we’re making it hard for ourselves with the amount of ball that we’ve been turning over. If we cut those in half it’s going to help a lot.”
“Our errors are killing us. We sealed our own fate on the weekend with the amount of errors we made,” Jack Wighton added.
The Raiders can ill-afford to forfeit any unnecessary advantage to the Tigers on Saturday given their tremendous run of form over the side from the Nation’s Capital in the last five years.
Wests have won nine of their last 10 encounters over the Raiders and are traditionally very hard to beat at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
To further fuel the Tigers’ ambition to topple the Raiders is the fact that the joint venture are sitting in 9th position and looking to break back into the top eight.
Canberra’s fortunes will be buoyed by the return of Country Origin representative Paul Vaughan who was in outstanding form prior to being suspended.
“Vaughan is a quality player and it’s terrific for our team to have him back in the line-up this week,” Pay said. “There are a number of guys in our team who I think have got the ability to play State of Origin in the future and I think that Vaughany has definitely got that. I could see Vaughany in a Blues jumper in the future for sure.”
“I thought our forwards were terrific last week against Canterbury. They matched them really well and especially did a good job on James Graham and Sam Kasiano. The Tigers have got a great pack as well and having Vaughany back will give us a big boost.”
All three grades will be playing at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday with Holden Cup kicking off at 1:10pm, NSW Cup at 3:10pm and NRL at 5:30pm.
Anthony Milford v James Tedesco
As expected, there will be plenty of talk focusing on Tedesco facing the Raiders, the side he agreed to join next year before reneging on the deal.
For the Raiders, there will be no train of thought in their mindset to try and extract revenge of some sorts on the talented custodian, but merely to nullify his attacking prowess.
“We can’t afford to worry about him too much,” Pay said. “There will be plenty of talk in the papers about us playing him but that’s where it ends.
“If we get caught up in that talk and concentrate too much on him the likes of Brooks, Farah and Woods will punish us. He’s obviously a talented player though and that’s why we wanted him here so we’ll be doing our best to nullify him as best as we can.”
Tedesco’s match-up with Milford is a mouth-watering one for spectators with the Tigers fullback averaging 153 metres per match and the Raiders dynamo having registered 13 line breaks for the year, the most by any player on either side.
Brenko Lee v Pat Richards
After making his NRL debut last weekend against the Bulldogs, Lee will be looking to improve on his initial appearance in the top grade against the Tigers where he will come up against Richards.
Whilst Richards is at the opposite end of the spectrum in his career, he can certainly still play with the 2005 premiership winner having registered 11 line breaks for the year, the most for his side.
“I’m looking forward to taking on Pat Richards,” Lee said. “He’s a player with a lot of experience and although it will be a huge challenge for myself, I’m confident that I can redeem myself this weekend after the few errors I made last week.”
The whole side, not just Lee, will also have to take note of Richards’ revolutionary kick-offs which soar high in the air in a torpedo-like fashion.
David Shillington v Aaron Woods
Against a Bulldogs pack regarded amongst one of the best in the competition, Shillington stood tall running for just under 200 metres and registering 22 hard-hitting tackles and five valuable offloads which provided the impetus for crucial second phase play.
The former Australian Test front-rower will need to be at his best this Saturday to again lead the way forward for the emerging Raiders forward pack.
Shillington will go head-to-head with NSW Blues prop Aaron Woods who has been sensational for the Tigers in 2014, averaging 159 metres per match.
Woods is the leader of the Tigers pack and if Shillington can assert his dominance early on it will provide his side with a considerable injection of confidence.
Last 3 results:
- Wests defeated Canberra 17-12 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Round 15 2013
- Wests defeated Canberra 40-0 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 13 2012
- Canberra defeated Wests 30-16 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Round 4 2012
Record against the Tigers:
In a total of 26 games against the Tigers, the Raiders have registered 10 wins and 16 losses.
Raiders record at Campbelltown Sports Stadium:
In a total of eight games played at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, the Raiders have won just two games and lost on six occasions.
They said it:
Anthony Milford: “I didn’t mind playing off the interchange bench, it was what was best for the team because I’d missed most of the week of training. I’m looking forward to returning to fullback this Saturday against the Tigers though.”
Jack Wighton: “Everyone has made mention of the errors that Brenko made but not too many have brought up his great dummy half runs and hit ups in our yardage area. I thought he did really well for his first game in the NRL. He’s a very strong player who’s got a bright future and I think he will be a lot better this week against the Tigers.”
Brenko Lee: “I had mixed emotions around my debut; nerves, excitement but then disappointment after the game when we lost and I made a few errors. When Ricky told me that I was in the team again this week he said he’s expecting more out of me because it’s my second game and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”