Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers on Saturday at 5:30pm at GIO Stadium
Referees: Henry Perenara & Adam Gee
Video Referee: Bernard Sutton & Steve Folkes
The Raiders had a much needed win over the Cronulla Sharks on the road last weekend and return home to Canberra on Saturday to show their home fans some gratitude in the first of two member appreciation matches to end the season at GIO Stadium.
A new look line-up last weekend showcased that the future is not all doom and gloom for the Green Machine, with Jack Wighton in particular impressing in his first match at fullback, while Jeremy Hawkins made a strong debut in the centres.
The Tigers present similar challenges as the Sharks last weekend, with a host of players unavailable to injury, including James Tedesco, Luke Brooks, Keith Galloway and Braith Anasta and like the Raiders are relying on youth to get them through until the end of the season.
With both teams out of finals calculations the match is two-fold, with both teams looking to put some pride into their clubs jersey and also trialing new combinations and new players as they look to build for 2015.
The rich history between the two clubs stems back to the classic 1989 grand final, with every clash between the Raiders and Tigers a fierce encounter, including their round 16 match at Campbelltown Stadium where only a late Braith Anasta field goal separated the two teams.
With the Raiders holding their home ground advantage this time around they’ll be looking to reverse the result and complete the first back to back wins of the 2014 season.
Jarrod Croker v Chris Lawrence
Jarrod Croker continues to defy his clubs position on the ladder, with another try last weekend taking him to 18 for the season and one from the leading try scorer Semi Radradra. Croker has amassed an incredible 180 points this season proving his worth not only as a goal kicker, but a genuine try scoring threat.
His opponent Chris Lawrence has had an injury plagued season which has failed to see him reach the heights of 2010-2011 where he played six tests for Australia, however he still possesses a huge threat out wide and the Raiders will need to make sure they shut him down in attack.
Mitch Cornish v Mitchell Moses
Two NRL rookies will go head to head this weekend, with Cornish set to start in the NRL for the first time after six starts from the bench in his rookie season. The highlight of Cornish’s match against the Sharks last weekend was his impressive kicking game and the Raiders will look for him to get them out of yardage this weekend and set the Tigers on the back foot.
His attacking kicks last weekend also proved fruitful and he’ll look for the likes of Anthony Milford and Jack Wighton to push up on his pinpoint grubbing kicks near the Tigers line.
Moses started his time at the Tigers at fullback but with boom rookie Luke Brooks out with injury he’ll move to the halves this weekend. With Blake Austin partnering him in the halves the relatively inexperienced Moses will have plenty of responsibility on getting the Tigers around the park and will follow orders from his skipper Robbie Farah who will most likely anchor the Tigers attack.
Glen Buttriss v Robbie Farah
In a team not having the best of seasons Buttriss has been a shining light. Not only has he played every game for the Raiders in 2014, he’s also been one of the Raiders best all season and has improved his passing from dummy half immensely this year.
At 29 years of age Buttriss is one of the senior members of a baby faced Raiders line-up and he’ll need every ounce of experience this weekend when he takes on the Tigers and NSW hooker in Robbie Farah.
Farah adds an element to the Tigers of precision and success, with his never say die attitude sure to keep the Tigers in the game all afternoon at GIO Stadium. He gets through a mountain of work with the ball, but also averages over 40 tackles a game.
Record against the Tigers:
In a total of 27 games against The Wests Tigers, Canberra has won 10 games and lost 17.
Raiders record at GIO Stadium:
Played 14, Raiders 6, Tigers 8.
Last three encounters:
1. Tigers defeated Raiders 19-18 at Campbelltown Stadium in 2014 (Rd 16)
2. Tigers defeated Raiders 17-12 at Campbelltown Stadium in 2013 (Rd 15)
3. Tigers defeated Raiders 40-0 at GIO Stadium Canberra in 2012 (Rd 13)
He said it:
Jeremy Hawkins: “We’ve got a lot of juniors here and everyone has been coming through the ranks like Cornish, Jeff Lynch and I and we have a lot of depth which is good.”
Kyle O’Donnell: “We’ve got a fair few experienced guys out so it’s up for us guys to come in and fill their shoes and step up.”