Following a great team performance last week, the Canberra Raiders NYC team will need to improve yet again when they travel to Campbelltown Stadium to take on the Wests Tigers.
The win last week kept the young Raiders in the hunt for a finals spot where they currently sit in 11th spot just one win outside the eight. However if the boys want to prove they are any sort of legitimate finals threat these are the sides that the team will need to beat.
Their opponent the Wests Tigers will come into the game off the back of five consecutive wins which will provide a much more difficult task then last week’s game against the Bulldogs.
Canberra should have no problems matching the Tigers in attack where they have outscored their 5th placed counterparts 399 to 362 for the season. But it is the defence that coach Mick Mantelli will be keen to see the side continue to improve.
The boys have worked hard on their defence in recent weeks which has seen a greater consistency when defending the try line. Earlier on in the season the team was being let down by letting in soft tries under the post, but that has dried up for opposition teams in recent weeks in a positive sign the Raiders are getting back to their best.
Unfortunately for the Raiders Lachlan Croker sustained an ACL injury while scoring a try in the U18’s Origin game and he will be out for an indefinite period of time. He had a bright start in the NYC team gaining man of the match honours in two games, and changing games almost as he pleased.
Again the side will be shuffled around; however it was already a forward thinking move by Mantelli who already rotated his line up after half time last week.
What that means is Andrew Heffernan will move to fullback where he played for much of the second half last week, with regular fullback Ricky Garard moving to the hooker position.
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The move gives the Raiders another attacking weapon with Garard flourishing out of dummy half in recent weeks, being one of the team’s best formers after coming back from being dropped earlier in the season.
At that point in time Mantelli said while Garard was doing some good things he wasn’t getting involved enough in the play, its advice that Garard has taken on board to take his game to that next level.
With Garard moving into hooker, Dylan McGrath will join a five man bench and Jules Webley will start the game at lock.
With Lachlan Lewis returning from his U18’s Origin experience he will move into the five eighth position.
The key to this game for the Raiders will be starting well. In games where they have started well on the road they have gone on to win the match. Usually if the Raiders struggle early on in the match they have often found themselves playing catch up.
The match against the Wests Tigers will be played at Campbelltown Stadium with kick off in the match taking place at 1:10pm AEST.