An impressive win at home earlier in the season over the Storm will see the Canberra Raiders NYC team confident of producing a similar result when they head to Melbourne to take on the Storm at AAMI Park.
The last time these two teams met they produced an instant classic and it was a little bit of Jake Wheeler magic that saw the Raiders get out of jail after leading early then trailing late in the game.
That match was a close one and since then the Raiders team has changed dramatically. They no longer have the services of Tevita Pangai Junior, Patrick Mago, Brenko Lee and the man of the match in that last encounter Luke Bateman.
With that said Canberra will be attempting to stop their road slide. It’s been a rough road for the Raiders who have won just two of nine games when travelling this year. They will be attempting to change all that this week following two recent heavy losses on the road.
Last week’s loss was a disheartening one for the Raiders who showed signs that they had clicked, before being run over by a talented Gold Coast side.
Despite everything that coach Mick Mantelli has been reluctant in recent weeks to blame the losses on players playing a higher grade, saying last week that this season has been more about finding players that have the potential to one day play NRL.
Mantelli has again made a few changes to the side that was disappointingly defeated last week on the Gold Coast. This week will see Jono Kent moved to fullback while Cleveland McGhie will take the vacant centres role.
That means that talented playmaker Andrew Heffernan will again be returned to the halves after struggling to impact games at fullback. It wasn’t through lack of trying however, but through Heffernan’s efforts earlier in the season he has already shown that he is better suited in the five-eighth position.
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Lachlan Lewis has been rested this week, with Mantelli aware that the young playmaker has had a heavy work load in recent weeks following his Origin commitments, and also playing a lot of games earlier in the year for the SG Ball team.
Jared McIlwrick will return to the starting line-up this week after starting last week on the bench, with Jack Williams shifting back to the bench. Jamal Nchouki is back in the number 16 jersey with Ben Maguire named as the 18th man.
Fast starts haven’t been a problem for the Raiders in recent weeks, and they will be keen to get the perfect start in Melbourne.
Canberra managed to secure their first lead at half time this season against the Storm, the Raiders also snapped a two game losing streak the last time these two teams played, so there may be an omen in that.
Player to watch – Lachlan Hurst
The wily utility from Leeton will be looking to add to his impressive tally of tries this season. He has achieved his early season goal of earning a permanent spot in the NYC team this year, making the wing his own scoring tries at a rate better than one a game.
Hurst one day wishes to follow in the footsteps of his father Phil Hurst who played for the Raiders in 1988 after five years with the Cronulla Sharks. Hurst’s positive attitude has seen him excel in this grade particularly when things haven’t gone his way.
The match against the Storm kicks off at 3:15pm at AAMI Park.