NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Storm
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm on Saturday at 5:30pm at AAMI Park
Back in Round 7 the Raiders celebrated Easter Sunday with a thrilling victory over the Melbourne Storm. Fast forward to Round 19 and the Green Machine will again be looking to celebrate another special occasion with a win; Shaun Fensom’s 100th NRL match.
No player is held in higher esteem at the Raiders than the side’s inspirational lock forward and Fensom’s team mates will be doing their upmost to ensure that he celebrates his milestone in fitting fashion.
“I love the bloke and so does everybody at the club,” Captain Terry Campese said. “He plays his heart out every week and nobody deserves to celebrate their 100th NRL match with a win more than him.
“He does a lot of work on and off the field for the club and I’d put him in the same regard as someone like Alan Tongue as far as respect from his peers goes.
“It’s a great milestone for Fenno and something that he should be very proud of. We’ll be doing our best to get the win for him.”
Whilst the Raiders will be focused on celebrating a club stalwart’s milestone with a win, revenge will be on the minds of the Storm after victory was stolen from their clutches in Round 7 year through a 79th minute try to Paul Vaughan, which brought sent the faithful at GIO Stadium Canberra into hysteria.
“The Storm will definitely be using the previous loss this year as motivation this time around,” Campese said. “They will be going through our game with a fine tooth comb because they were very upset about losing that game and revenge will definitely be on their minds on Saturday.”
Aside from revenge, Melbourne will be hungry for a win due to multiple other factors.
Currently sitting in 8th position and one of five teams locked on 20 competition points, the Storm face the possibility of dropping out of the top eight if they were to again succumb to the Green Machine.
Melbourne are also coming off a tough 6-4 loss to the Bulldogs at AAMI Park in Round 18 and will be looking to make it up to their fans this Saturday in what will be another home game.
Although the Raiders are coming 15th on the ladder they can head into the match in a confident frame of mind after an impressive 36-20 victory over the Gold Coast Titans.
In team changes, Jarrad Kennedy reverts from second-row to centre following injuries to Brenko Lee and Jack Wighton. As such, Joel Edwards comes into the starting side and Brett White comes into the line-up. White will start the match with Dane Tilse named on the interchange bench.
CLICK HERE to see the full team line-up.
For those that can’t make the trip to Melbourne, the match will be broadcast live on Foxsports 1.
Anthony Milford v Billy Slater
After a magical man of the match performance against the Titans, Anthony Milford has set his sights on trumping the man whose jerseys he wishes to wear one day; Queensland and Australian fullback Billy Slater.
The battle between these two dynamic and outrageously talented custodians is one that is certain to bring the crowd to their feet.
Whether creating tries for their team mates or scoring them on their own, there are few players that fans would prefer to watch than Milford and Slater in full flight.
Whilst Slater has proven himself over the course of his career to be among the game’s elite players year in year out, Milford is at the beginning of what shapes to be a highly successful career.
And thus lays the challenge for the 20 year old.
“He [Slater] is a player that I really look up to and have done so since I was young,” Milford said. “He’s a legend of the game and whilst I greatly admire him, I do look forward to challenging myself against him because he’s the best in the business.”
Milford has recorded 15 line breaks to Slater’s nine for the year, however the Storm number one averages more metres per game with 142.
Jarrad Kennedy v Kurt Mann
Normally a back-rower, Jarrad Kennedy has been named at centre for this Saturday’s clash with the Storm due to injuries to Brenko Lee and Jack Wighton.
Despite having little experience of playing in the back-line, Kennedy was quite impressive filling in out wide when Lee exited the field last week.
The 24 year old made several line-breaks on the right edge one of which led to a try to halfback Josh McCrone when he combined with former housemate Reece Robinson.
Kennedy will oppose promising Storm youngster Kurt Mann. Whilst Mann has made a good fist of playing in the centres, the regular five-eighth or fullback will no doubt be targeted by Kennedy in defence given the considerable size advantage Kennedy will have.
Paul Vaughan v Tohu Harris
Given his heroics in the last encounter, Paul Vaughan, the ‘Italian Stallion’ is set to be a heavily marked man at AAMI Park on Saturday.
It was Vaughan who, when everything looked dead and buried for the Raiders, down 22-18 with just a minute to spare, stepped up to snatch victory from Melbourne’s clutches.
Picking up a loose ball, Vaughan stepped several times off his right foot before surging past would-be defenders to plant the ball over the line to the upmost delight of the faithful at GIO Stadium Canberra.
Similar to Vaughan, Tohu Harris has an ability to play out wide or in the middle of the field. With toughness, size and skill to match, Harris’ injection onto the field will have to be closely monitored by the Raiders defence.
Record against the Storm:
In a total of 34 games against Melbourne, Canberra has won 10 games and lost 24.
Canberra’s record at AAMI Park:
In a total of 4 games at AAMI Park, the Raiders have won on just one occasion, in Round 18 2012 in which they thumped the Storm 40-12.
Last three encounters:
1. Canberra defeated Melbourne 24-22 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 7 2014
2. Melbourne defeated Canberra 68-4 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 21 2013
3. Canberra defeated Melbourne 24-20 at AAMI Park in Round 8 2013
They said it:
Terry Campese: “Tony [Milford] wants to be where he [Slater] is one day so I’m sure that he will be fired up for a big performance on Saturday, similar to how he played against the Titans.”
Jarrod Croker: ““Personal milestones like getting over 800 career points is not something I look too closely at, I’m more focused on the team and winning games for the Raiders.”
Jarrad Kennedy: “I’ll be sure to ask Toots [Jarrod Croker] and Jack [Wighton] for some advice but I’m not really worried about playing centre, I’m more looking forward to the challenge. I believe it will add to my resume as a player.”
Ricky Stuart: “There are passionate Raiders fans across the country and the group of supporters that were proudly flying our lime green flag up at the Gold Coast and cheering us on at the top of their lungs on Saturday certainly played a pivotal role in our win. Hopefully our fans in Melbourne can play a similar part on Saturday.”