Virtually back to full strength the Canberra Raiders NYC team will be looking to finish 2014 off on a high aiming to win their last two games at home to finish the year off with three consecutive victories.
Last week was a danger game for the side and the boys passed the test with flying colours, despite all that went on with late changes and an injury to a dominant Andrew Heffernan the side still manage to run in a big score against the Sharks away from home.
It’s hard to imagine what Lachlan Hurst may have done had he played, but Thomas Cronan did more than what was required in his absence. The Cooma flyer will make way for Hurst to return this week as he looks to continue his great try scoring run.
The man inside him Jono Kent was one of the Raiders best last week and was brilliant under the high ball when he shifted to fullback for Heffernan. On the other side Jack Creith also found his touch again as he set up a number of tries during last week’s win.
Andrew Heffernan will be retained this week after overcoming his head knock while Ricky Garard made a successful return from injury and will again start from the bench this week. Trent Schubach has been named 18th man on an extended bench.
Patrick Mago and Luke Bateman were also brilliant in last week’s victory providing leadership to a group of youngsters who are still adapting to the Holden Cup. Bateman in particular resembled a young Shaun Fensom with a strong defensive workhorse display.
While Mago was happy to destroy the Sharks defence with strong carries that often ended up in the Queenslander having 3, 4 and even 5 defenders fall off him with each run. His ability to offload out of these tackles was also crucial in adding an extra dimension to the side’s attack last week.
It would actually be easy to talk about every player from last week’s win, but an honourable mention should go to the halves combination of Matt Frawley and Lachlan Lewis who controlled the game so well last week.
You can see both of them gaining confidence with each week, and Frawley in particular has had an outstanding season. While Lewis is slowly but surely showing all the signs that he will one day be a top playmaker in the NRL, last week it was not only his kicking game that was dangerous but he showed a strong running game which hasn’t been previously sighted in this grade.
While the side was beaten quite convincingly by the Tigers the last time these two sides played this provides a great opportunity for the side to upset a finals bound team in one of their last two games.
Adding to the fact that this is a much stronger side for the Raiders this time around, the Tigers struggled against the bottom of the ladder Bulldogs last week. The Tigers struggled going down two tries early and this will be an area that Raiders coach Mick Mantelli will look to exploit.
The boys have been particuarly good starters and if they can do that this week they will go a long way to upsetting the Tigers. Combine that with the Tigers struggling with injuries it provides a great opportunity to get a good scalp so all the motivation is there for the boys.
Mantelli will be wary of playmakers Te Amaire Martin and Manaia Cherrington who were dangerous for the Tigers last time and are capable of breaking the game open sometimes at will.
Player to watch – Jack Williams
Probably doesn’t get all the accolades of his team mates but he probably played his best game all year last week. Was originally named in the centres but showed his versatility by moving to the backrow, he put in a stellar display and looked dangerous when running off the halves.
He scored a runaway try from 30 metres out and even the Cronulla fullback didn’t want to tackle him he was moving that fast! One tough player who just gets the job done, the former Cooma Colts junior is just 17 so has plenty of time to develop at this level over the next few years.
The match against the Tigers will be played on Saturday with kick off at 3:15pm at GIO Stadium.