NYC Match Preview: Raiders v Rabbitohs

The last time the Raiders met the South Sydney Rabbitohs the two sides played out a thrilling match at ANZ Stadium. It was a Lachlan Hurst try in the dying stages of the match that snatched the Raiders a heart stopping victory on that day.

It was a win on the road that has stood as a rare success when the Raiders have travelled this season. So coming back and playing in front of their home fans should fill the Raiders with some confidence. In recent weeks the Raiders have struggled, but the side will be boosted by the return of Tevita Pangai Junior to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Pangai Junior returns to the Holden Cup after a strong showing for the Canberra Raiders feeder side The Mounties who have a bye this week. Pangai Junior will add some much needed bulk to a side that has had the majority of its leaders playing up in the club’s feeder teams.

It’s worth noting that the Holden Cup team has fielded Luke Bateman, Patrick Mago, Tevita Pangai Junior and Brenko Lee this year, and all are now playing a higher grade of football. It highlights the club successful pattern of producing high quality juniors, and Lee in particular has excelled at a higher level.

When you consider the quality of players that are playing up it’s understandable that the side is going to struggle as any side missing their best 4-5 players would. However there has been no excuses from Coach Mick Mantelli who continues to emphasise development amongst his young players.

Mantelli has managed to blood a number of younger players this year from the club’s SG Ball team with Lachlan Lewis one who has made all the right steps since making his NYC debut earlier this year. He will return this week to partner Matthew Frawley in the halves after being rested last week following a heavy work load.

Click here to see this week’s team.

Ricky Garard and Andrew Heffernan are a pair of players that look like they could have a bright future at the club, and Mantelli left no stone unturned with both playing a variety of positions and this week both will play in the centres.

Jack Creith returns from injury to take his place on the wing, while Scott Doyle will also return to take his place in the second row. Mantelli has also named an extended squad due to the game being played on Monday, with Jake Wheeler and Jamal Nchouki the 18th and 19th men respectively.

Both sides come into the game off the back of consecutive losses, and the sides should be pretty evenly matched with the Rabbitohs currently sitting in 11th place while the Raiders are one spot back in 12th spot purely on point’s differential.

It provides a great opportunity for the Raiders to put in a good performance against a similarly rated side, the match against the Rabbitohs will kick off at 4:45pm on Monday at GIO Stadium.

Player to watch – Tevita Pangai Junior

It’s hard to believe that this guy is only 18! He was struggling earlier in the season before some home truths from Mick Mantelli following a suspension set him straight. He has been a wrecking ball for Mounties in recent weeks and if he can bring that form to the Holden Cup this week he will be hard to stop.